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Journey for Justice

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.

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