Bay Area Journalist William Wong Shares Family’s Immigration Tale April 5

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(Joyce Mende Wogne)
Speaker William Wong is a well-known journalist and author whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle.

    April’s First Friday Forum speaker, William Gee Wong, will bring a special perspective to the issue of immigration, among other topics, as he presents “Father and Son: Exclusion, Inclusion from China to Chinatown to America.” 
    Wong says his talk, with photos, will primarily be about his father, who as a teenager came from China to Oakland in 1912. It was during the Chinese exclusion era of 1882 to 1943. The era refers to the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur and prohibited immigration of Chinese laborers.
    “He lived transitionally until he brought his wife and three daughters to settle in Oakland.  He had four other children and ran the Great China restaurant in the heart of Chinatown from 1943 until his death in 1961,” Wong says. “His story is an example of Chinese men surviving during the exclusion era and leaving a legacy of four generations of productive Americans.”
    Born in Oakland, the youngest and only son, Wong had six sisters. He attended Oakland public schools and graduated from UC Berkeley and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
    He worked in both mainstream and ethnic journalism for more than 40 years.  As a pioneering Asian-American journalist he has written for the Wall Street Journal, Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle and Asian Week and has been a regional commentator on Public Broadcasting System’s “News Hour.”
    Wong’s book, Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America, is a collection of columns, essays, commentaries and stories that chronicle his experiences growing up in Oakland’s Chinatown. It covers such topics as Asian-American history, social and racial justice, anti-Asian racism, immigration, media portrayals and politics, and is the result of Wong’s work as an inside observer of Asian America’s dynamic role in a changing America. 
    Often referred to as the “elder son of Asian-American journalism,” Wong also wrote Images of America: Oakland’s Chinatown, which contains many historic photos of the area. He calls his hometown, and the larger Bay Area, the capital of Asian America.
    Wong concludes, “At a time when immigration is a political hot potato, my father-son story exemplifies a positive outcome for the ever-evolving American Experiment.” 
    The Forum is scheduled for Friday, April 5, 1:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary of Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Drive, Lafayette.  Refreshments will be served at 1 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.

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