Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Legacy of MLK for Immigrants and a Diverse America

KQED Perspectives has a series of 2-minute personal testimonies about Dr Martin Luther King's legacy for diversity.  The stories are as varied as the backgrounds of the speakers and very touching. 

Li Miao Lovett, a Chinese immigrant who arrived after the 1965 Hart Cellar Act, recounts the significance of the civil rights movement for her family's immigrant heritage. Though immigration historians like Jack Chin have revealed a more complex history, she says simply, “we wouldn’t even be in the country if not for the Civil Rights movement.”

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I celebrate the Civil Rights movement that helped foster the historic opening of immigration laws then. President Johnson spoke of lifting the “bars of discrimination” against immigrants. Vice President Hubert Humphrey was more explicit, urging us to “bring our immigration law into line with the spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The following year, the Hart-Celler Act opened the doors to people coming from China, India, Brazil, Pakistan, all over --- lifting the ethnic bans and quotas in place for over 40 years.

Lovett concludes: "[W]e don’t need more walls. Today is a reminder that those of us who came to this country, or built our lives on the sweat of immigrants, should count the leaders of the Civil Rights movement among our kin."

The other stories are worth a listen as well.


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