In 1882, Congress passed a law that barred Chinese immigration to the United States. In addition, the law prevented Chinese nationals already living in the United States from becoming U.S. citizens. The Act was not repealed until 1943, following the advent of World War II. PBS recently aired this two-hour episode of American Experience dedicated to the Chinese Exclusion Act and its impact on Chinese-American individuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The entire episode is currently available for streaming on PBS's website. This episode, which features interviews with numerous renowned historians, traces the history of Chinese immigration to the United States throughout the nineteenth century. The episode also examines the growth of that racism and xenophobia that eventually culminated in the 1882 law. One of the most powerful segments of this episode documents the horrific violence that targeted the Chinese community, including the 1871 massacre in Los Angeles. Another powerful portion of the documentary documents the resistance of Chinese Americans who bravely challenged their treatment under the act through civil disobedience and challenges in court.
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