Ruling gives posthumous law license to victim of anti-Chinese 1890s
A descendant of the wife of Hong Yen Chang was researching a book about an ancestor when she learned that her great-grand-uncle Chang had received a law degree but never practiced in California.
Thanks to the efforts of the University of California Davis Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Hong Yen Chang, the first lawyer in America of Asian descent, was posthumously granted a law license in California! A victim of anti-Chinese racism in the 1890s, Hong Yen Chang was denied admission to California, although New York State passed legislation to admit him.
In their ruling on March 16, the California Supreme Court repudiated its 1890 decision denying Chang a license because “persons of the Mongolian race” were not entitled to citizenship. This acknowledges the often overlooked anti-Asian discrimination and injustice of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
As part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month last May, AABANY granted him a posthumous membership. We commend the UC Davis APALSA students for their efforts and the California Supreme Court on their unanimous decision.
If you’re interested in learning more about the rich history of the Chinese in America, consider joining AABANY for our special tours of the New York Historical Society’s Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion exhibit on March 28 and April 4. We will be offering discounted tickets for AABANY members. Click here for more information.