When this labor center was still at the Evergreen State
College in 2001, Director Peter Kardas and center staff became involved in the Journey for Justice project, working as
interviewers, transcribers, project coordinators, and brokers. The exciting
culmination of the project was a splendid physical exhibit unveiled at the Annual
Banquet of the Asian
Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) in Seattle in May of 2003. Complete with large displays and
free-standing wooden frames, the display offered an overview of the history of Asian
workers in the Puget Sound since the mid-1800s with period images and
information. This on-line resource is now permanently
housed on the Labor Center’s website.
The project began with the Seattle chapter of APALA applying
for and receiving a grant from King County’s Cultural Development Authority in
1999. APALA’s goal was to counter the stereotype of Asian-Americans as
passive immigrants who have never played any role in the U.S. labor movement.
Through photographing and interviewing Asian American labor activists and putting
their stories in the context of a broader history of struggle, the intention
was to tell the rich story of Asian resistance to economic exploitation and
racism. The hope was that the exhibit would both demonstrate to unions and the
broader public that Asian immigrants have always acted to better their
conditions as workers, and remind the Asian community that the Asian immigrant
experience is a workers’ experience.
On all accounts we think the project is a wonderful success.
Martin Kane’s photography is beautiful and provocative, and former Seattle
APALA president Cathy Lowenberg did excellent work editing interviews and
writing the historical introduction and timeline. We hope you enjoy this
on-line version of the exhibit.