A Bill Moyers Special - Becoming American: The Chinese Experience

The Chinese Experience
About the Programs
Program One
Program Two
Program Three
Personal Journeys
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About The Programs

What Does It Mean to Become an American?

In every immigrant group, each generation finds a balance between the values and practices of its heritage, and the mores of its adopted country. What is lost and what is gained, both personally and culturally, when one sheds part of one's heritage to make way for a new self-identity? Bill Moyers, Series Producer Thomas Lennon, and a team of filmmakers including Series Editor Ruby Yang and Producers Joseph Angier, Steve Cheng and Mi Ling Tsui explore this dramatic portion of America's history and confront myths about the Chinese in America that have flourished in the void.

Program 1
Program One: Gold Mountain Dreams

As civil war and famine ravaged Southern China in the mid-19th century, word of the California Gold Rush reached the port of Canton. The prospect of making a fortune in America proved an irresistible lure to young Chinese men. They set sail across the Pacific hoping for a better life. More>>

Program 2
Program Two: Between Two Worlds

Part Two tells the story of hostile years when Chinese Americans existed in a kind of limbo, denied the rights of their new country and no longer at home in their former one. They found refuge in Chinatowns, insular worlds that provided a sense of security and the companionship of kinsmen. More>>

Program 3
Program Three: No Turning Back

World War II ushered in major changes for Chinese Americans. In an abrupt about face, they were suddenly embraced by America's political establishment. The exclusion laws were quickly repealed and Chinese Americans began their rise to the pinnacle of U.S. life. More>>

Becoming American: Personal Journeys
Becoming American: Personal Journeys

Watch a three-part series of one-on-one interviews by Bill Moyers with author Gish Jen, Nobel prize-winning physicist Samuel Ting, AIDS researcher David Ho, businesswoman Shirley Young, and artist Maya Lin. More>>

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Photo Credits: Workers/Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Exclusion Act/British Columbia Archives
Soldiers/Chinese Historical Society of Southern California Gish Jen/