Omachi family detained by authorities
George Omachi and his family are relocated to Jerome War Relocation Center, in Denson, Arkansas. After the Omachis arrived at the Jerome camp, George took part in camp baseball, becoming a player for the Denson All-Stars. “Without baseball, camp life would have been miserable. … It was humiliating, demeaning, being incarcerated in our own country.” He continued to play and coach baseball for several teams at several levels. In 1968, he began scouting in the MLB.
The Asiatic Exclusion League is formed
The Asiatic Exclusion League, an organization that aimed to prevent immigration of people from Asia, was formed in 1905.
Takao Ozawa v. United States
In 1915, Ozawa filed for United States citizenship under the Naturalization Act of 1906, which allowed only “free white persons” and “persons of African nativity or persons of African descent” to naturalize. In 1922, the United States Supreme Court found Ozawa, a Japanese-American who was born in Japan but had lived in the United States for 20 years, ineligible for naturalization. This decision strengthened and reaffirmed the racist policies of U.S. immigration. With successfful judicial backing, policymakers passed more anti-Asian laws, a trend that continued until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Walter Achiu becomes first Asian to play NFL Football
Little is known about Achiu, who was a 150-pound running back-drop kicker for the Dayton Triangles in the 1927 and 1928 seasons. He went to the University of Dayton and eventually was inducted into the school’s football hall of fame in 1974.
President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 into effect
Encouraged by officials at all levels in the hysteria of World War II, President Roosevelt authorized the internment of tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident aliens from Japan.
First Samoan athlete plays in the NFL
A member of the 1945 Washington Redkins, Offensive Lineman Al Lolotai was the first Samoan to play in the NFL.
Wataru “Wat” Misaka becomes first non-white and first player of Asian descent to play professional basketball
Selected by the Knicks in the 1947 Basketball Association of America Draft, Misaka became both the first non-white player and first player of Asian descent to play in this precursor league that would become the National Basketball Association.
Larry Kwong breaks hockey color barrier
Kwong is called up from the New York Rangers farm team and becomes the first person of color to play in the NHL. When he was hired as player-coach of Switzerland’s HC Ambrì-Piotta later in his life, he became the first person of Chinese descent to coach a professional hockey team.
Victoria Manalo Draves becomes first Asian American Olympic Champion
Manalo Draves grew up in San Francisco, the daughter of a Filpino father and an English mother. Interracial marriages were frowned upon in those days, and an early coach made Manalo Draves use her mother’s maiden name in competitions. She also faced a regular indignity when using a public pool — the water would be drained the day after she used it. On August 3, 1948, Manalo Draves became the first Asian American Olympic Champion, placing first in the women’s three-meter springboard at the 1948 London Summer Olympics. After the Olympics, Manolo Draves and her husband opened their own diving school. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1969.
First Asian American Man wins Olympic Gold Medal
Sammy Lee becomes the first Asian American man to earn an Olympic Gold Medal, winning in platform diving during the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Hart-Celler Immigration Act
The Hart-Celler Act ended an immigration-admissions policy based on race and ethnicty. When signging the act, President Johnson said, “This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives. … Yet it is still one of the most important acts of this Congress and of this administration. For it does repair a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American nation.”
Asian Americans for Equality peacefully protest
Moved to action by a developer who refused to hire Asian workers for the massive Confucius Plaza construction project, local activists raised their voices, staged months of protests and finally prevailed. Reflecting on the dramatic events of 40 years ago, AAFE Executive Director Chris Kui says protest among New York Asians wasn’t just rare, it was unheard of at that time. “I remember the Asian community was afraid to speak up about issues they faced … lack of access to equal employment or services.” DeMatteis Corp. eventually relented, agreeing to hire 27 minority workers, Asians among them. It was a major victory for the community and immediately established Asian Americans for Equal Employment as an organization that people could rely on when they had nowhere else to turn.
Asian Americans for Equality protest treatment of Peter Yew
A rally against police brutality at City Hall brought out 20,000 protesters and forced the closure of most Chinatown businesses. After weeks of public pressure, all charges were dropped against Yew on July 2. Chris Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, also remembers it as a turning point: “There was a lot of discussion within the community. Some people said ‘Let’s not make trouble … it could hurt our future.’ Others even said ‘This isn’t really our country.’ But a whole new generation had a different view and said ‘This is our country. We have rights. Let’s fight for those rights.’”
First Polynesian in the College Football Hall of Fame
“Squirmin” Herman Wedemeyer, a Hawaiian, is inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
Tiffany Chin becomes the first Asian American U.S. figure skating champion
Chin became the first Asian American U.S. figure skating champion when she won the 1985 U.S. Figure Skating Championship. It was also the first Singles title for anyone of non-European descent. In 1992, Kristi Yamaguchi became a U.S. champion and Olympic gold medalist. She named Tiffany as a major role model. “I think it was so key for me to have an Asian American role model and influence to pursue skating,” Yamaguchi said in February 2018.
Jeremy Lin plays first NBA game
Jeremy Lin becomes the first american of chinese or taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. Lin’s time in the NBA was dubbed ‘Linsanity’ as he quickly rose from unknown player to top of his game.
First Chinese American drafted into NFL
Ed Wang is drafted by the Buffalo Bills, becoming the first Chinese American to be drafted into the NFL.
The most decorated figure skater of all time
Michelle Kwan, the most decorated figure skater of all time, is inducted into U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. She retired as a two-time Olympic medalist, five-time World champion and nine-time U.S. champion.
First Polynesian wins Heisman Trophy
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Samoan, becomes the first Polynesian to with the Heisman Trophy in 2014.
First Asian Player ranked #1 in Singles
Naomi Osaka becomes the first Asian player, male or female, to hold the top ranking in Singles after winning the Australian Open.
Asian American athletes speak out on COVID-19 Racism
NBA legend Jeremy Lin, Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp, former All-American UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi and UCLA women’s basketball player Natalie Chou speak out about the racism and xenophobia occuring as the COVID-19 pandemic takes over the world.