E Pluribus Unum
Sadly, though America often is described as a “nation of immigrants,” the real stories are too often painful to recount. For Chinese Americans this has been especially true. In the mid-1850s, natural disasters in China and news of the Gold Rush in California triggered the first major wave of immigration to the United States. Chinese workers contributed much of the labor for the major infrastructure projects of that era, including construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.
They also became targets. Like Blacks and Native Americans, they were prohibited from testifying in court and denied other essential rights. Hostility culminated in the 1882 passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The law, fueled by worker unrest, economic uncertainty and demands for “racial purity,” suspended immigration from China for a decade. Basic themes in this story still stalk Asian Americans today with violent, hateful crimes again on the rise.
I wonder . . . is this the best we can do? Both Aurora College and George Williams College had traditions of openness. Today, at Aurora University, we welcome all students in the spirit of the Great Motto of the United States of America. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. Learning and knowledge are the great equalizers. Our work is ever essential.
Rebecca L. Sherrick, PhD