Chinese Exclusion Act

PBS will air The Chinese Exclusion Act, a two-hour documentary “about how we define who can be an American, and what being an American means,” tonight at 8 pm ET (but check local listings).

On May 6, 1882, President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act into law. The act made it illegal for Chinese laborers to enter the United States and for Chinese nationals to become US citizens.

The documentary “examines the economic, cultural, social, legal, racial and political dimensions of the law; the forces and events that gave rise to it; and the effect it has had, and continues to have, on American culture and identity.”

It’s “a deeply American story – about immigration and national identity, civil rights and human justice; about how we define who can be an American, and what being an American means.”

Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu directed. The film is narrated by Hoon Lee and features the voices of Russell Wong, Fenton Lee, Yuet-Fung Ho and Josh Hamilton.

You can stream PBS programming by becoming a supporter of your local PBS station. The PBS Passport is available to viewers who donate a minimum of $5 a month/$60 a year. For more information, visit and select your local station from the tab in the upper left-hand corner.

For more information, visit PBS.

About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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