Chinatown Movements: Past, Present, & Futures

photo from UNITY Newspaper

photo from UNITY Newspaper


Chinatown Movements: Past, Present, & Futures is an intergenerational series of four public events that highlight historic and contemporary movements focused on labor, housing, and LGBTQ justice in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The series includes panel discussions, film screenings, bilingual walking tours, and a culminating open mic. Chinatown Movements is the first series of its kind in the neighborhood to engage community members in understanding how we can learn and build from Chinatown’s historic social movements to address similar, pressing present-day concerns.


May 24 // 7-9 PM: Garments Workers Organize: Honoring the Legacy of the 1982 Strike in Chinatown Sites of resistance line Chinatown’s streets.

On Mott Street in 1982, over 20,000 garment workers once left their jobs and marched on strike to fight for better working conditions. They flooded Columbus Park with fiery multilingual speeches and protested to call for justice. Hear firsthand from core organizers of the 1982 Strike — former garment workers, organizers, and union representatives — as they share memories of the strike and lessons learned from how they mass mobilized the Chinatown community. Hear firsthand from some of our featured speakers and 1982 Strike organizers here.

**SPECIAL NOTE**: We will be giving special priority to folks who have a connection to the garment worker history in Chinatown. If you are indeed connected through family or loved ones, please fill out this form to RSVP on a first come first serve basis.

If you aren't connected but are curious to learn more about this history RSVP through our limited tickets available through eventbrite here.

June 6 // 7-9 PM: Housing Justice in Chinatown As residents of Chinatown continue to face mass displacement from gentrification, it is more critical now than ever to uplift and celebrate the efforts of housing justice organizers, especially women leaders whose efforts often go unrecognized in our histories. This event will highlight the work of three generations of women housing organizers with CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities and their Chinatown Tenants Union. The panelists will discuss past and contemporary struggles for housing justice and their own lessons learned from organizing in Chinatown. The panel will also prompt attendees to connect the displacement occurring across neighborhoods in New York City from Chinatown to East Harlem, Brooklyn, and The South Bronx in a united fight for affordable housing and a more livable New York. 

June 9 // 2-4 PM: Queer Chinatown Tour highlights the hidden histories and contemporary happenings of the LGBTQ community in Chinatown. Inspired by place-keeping and critical mapping methods, the storytelling tour will interactively engage participants with different sites around the neighborhood that hold significance to queer and trans liberation. Based on community-based and archival engagement, the tour will be created and led by queer Chinese American youth from the W.O.W. Project and neighborhood mapping collective, Chinatown Our Narratives Tours. The tour will also be multilingual and include interpretation in Chinese languages.

July 11 // 7-9 PM: Chinatown Movements: Open Mic Night is a night of stories and performances centering movements in our community! We know the personal is political, we know creative projects write our people into history, and we know that the arts are critical, always. We envision a night that embraces and holds all of that.

about the team

PC: Alice Liang

PC: Alice Liang

Huiying B. Chan is a writer, cultural organizer, facilitator, and healer-in-training from New York City. Their body of work centers intergenerational resilience and creative people power, and stems from a place of deep belief and hope in a world where there is no suffering. Huiying is a digital organizer by way of the Kairos Fellowship, working on immigration, gender justice, and anti-displacement campaigns from Chinatowns to the border. After hours, they facilitate QTPOC writing workshops focused on using poetry and speculative fiction to cultivate our radical imaginations towards liberation. Huiying has received fellowships and awards from the Asian American Writers' Workshop, VONA/Voices, American Education Research Association, and Random House. They are currently writing a memoir about their journey tracing family roots in Toisan, China, and exploring ancestral lineages past and future.

Em Chu Ying He is a Public Programs and Managing Intern at the W.O.W. Project helping put together this Chinatown Movement Series and the Womxn Writers at WOW Series. They believe in the power of community and creative resistance and look forward to harnessing these powers to unearth stories of activism in Chinatown. They are currently a student at Barnard College studying American Studies with a Concentration in Ethnicity and Race and grew up on unceded Coast Salish Territories in the Pacific Northwest. 

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Jade Levine has been a Public Programs Intern at the W.O.W. Project since September 2018, and is thrilled to be part of the team putting together this timely and important Movement Series! She is a soon-to-be graduate of Barnard College, where she studied urban sociology and environmental science and wrote her senior thesis on placekeeping efforts in Chinatown. 

Mei Lum is the 5th generation owner of her family’s over century year old shop, Wing on Wo and is also the founder and director of the W.O.W. Project. She is thrilled to be working on another series that so deeply embodies W.O.W. Project’s mission with a group of incredible peers. Mei is currently a Civic Practice Seminar Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art looking at how artists activists can help bridge the gap between institutions and ethnic communities in New York. She is also currently working on a personal project that honors her grandmother and unpacks her emotional journey with the process of aging.

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Diane Wong is an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. Her intellectual interests include American politics, Asian American studies, race and ethnicity, urban governance, comparative immigration, gender and sexuality, community studies, and qualitative research methods. Her current research focuses on intergenerational resistance to gentrification in New York City, San Francisco, and Boston Chinatowns. She draws from a unique combination of methods including ethnography, participatory mapping, archival research, augmented reality, and oral history interviews with tenants, organizers, restaurant and garment workers, small businesses, public health workers, and elected officials. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, New York Council for the Humanities, New York Public Library, and has appeared in the Urban Affairs Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Asian American Policy Review, and a variety of edited book volumes, anthologies, podcasts, and museum exhibits.


Chinatown Movements: Past, Present & Futures is funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Citizens Committee of New York City’s Neighborhood Grant.