How the Chinese Helped Build the Railroad that Helped Build America

October 18, 2019

10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Chicago Campus, Wieboldt Hall, 339 E. Chicago Ave.

Two Hours Special Event: Edward Jung and Mark Chiang, Ph.D. from
the Chinese American Museum of Chicago will join us as we explore the
experience of the immigrant Chinese workers in the late 1800s and their
importance in building America. It is a fascinating story that is not widely
known — racism and xenophobia made it easy for later generations to
forget. It is the story of 20,000 Chinese laborers (approximately 90% of
the workforce) who toiled from 1863-1869 to build the Central Pacific
Railroad which ran from California to Utah and ultimately connected to
the first transcontinental railroad. Yet the Chinese were the first and only
ethnic group specifically singled out by constitutional law for denied entry
into the U.S. and those already born in the U.S. were ineligible for rights of
citizenship and protection by the 14th amendment. It wasn’t until 2014 (145
years after the Chinese started work on the railroad) that the U.S. formally
recognized the Chinese immigrants’ role and place in American History.
2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the “Golden Spike” — the ceremonial
final four railroad spikes placed that joined the Central Pacific and Union
Pacific railroads. We’ll mark this anniversary with the short film Chinese
Workers & America’s First Transcontinental Railroad (1863-1869), followed
by a presentation of Chinese contributions, immigration, and the Chinese
Exclusion Act of 1882 that lasted over 60 years.

Free and open to all current OLLI
members. Registration is required.
Refreshments will be served.

Register at:

Questions? Contact the OLLI office at 312-503-7881 or