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January Second Saturday: “The Lucky Ones” Book Reading by Historian & Professor Mae Ngai

January 8, 2011 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

CHSA is thrilled to present, on the first Second Saturday program of 2011 on January 8th at 1 pm, an important & original Chinese-American immigrant arrival story. Award-winning author & Professor Mae Ngai will present exclusively from her book on the three-generational saga of the Tape family.

Co-sponsored by Spring Valley Science School, with a Special Introduction by Chancellor of UC Hastings Law School Frank Wu

This  sweeping story centers on patriarch Jeu Dip’s (Joseph Tape’s) self-invention as an immigration broker in post-gold rush, racially explosive San Francisco, and the extraordinary rise it enables. Ngai’s portrayal of the Tapes as the first of middle-class Chinese Americans, with touring cars, hunting dogs, and society weddings, astonishes.

Again and again, Tape family history illuminates American history. Seven-year-old Mamie Tape attempts to integrate California schools, resulting in the landmark 1885 Tape v. Hurley. The family’s intimate involvement in the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair reveals how the Chinese American culture brokers essentially invented Chinatown–and so Chinese culture–for American audiences. Finally, Mae Ngai reveals aspects–timely, haunting, and hopeful–of the lasting legacy of the immigrant experience for all Americans.

This monumental book reading at CHSA takes place the day before the 126th anniversary of the Superior Court ruling of Tape v. Hurley on January 9, 1885. In 1884, Mamie, then eight years old, was denied admission to the Spring Valley School, because of her Chinese ancestry. Her parents subsequently sued the San Francisco Board of Education, after which, on January 9, 1885, Superior Court Justice McGuire handed down the decision in favor of the Tapes. On appeal, the California Supreme Court upheld the decision.

Mae M. Ngai is an American historian and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History at Columbia University.  Before becoming an academic, she spent many years in New York’s Chinatown community and labor movement as an activist and professional labor educator. Her first book, Impossible Subjects, is a highly-lauded analysis of U.S. immigration in the twentieth century.

Frank H. Wu is the new Chancellor & Dean of UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. Formerly a Professor of Law at Howard University and the former dean at Wayne State University Law School, Wu is also the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, which addresses a new paradigm of civil rights that goes beyond the merely black-white, while also addressing subtle forms of racial discrimination.


January 8, 2011
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


CHSA Museum