The Ambitious ‘Asian Americans’ Doc Advances U.S. History

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm May 11, 2020

In honor of Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, PBS will premiere “the most ambitious television chronicle of the Asian American story in the United States,” according to its press release, with the new five-part documentary “Asian Americans,” tonight and tomorrow (May 11-12).

Led by a team of Asian Americans, including Academy Award-nominated producer Renee Tajima-Peña and narrated by Daniel Dae Kim, the film explores the role Asians Americans played in U.S. history, from the first wave of immigrants in the 1850s to the modern refugee crises, through archives and personal stories.

“For Asian-Americans, I would hope that we can see that we belong here as much as anyone else and that we can take pride in our contributions to this country’s history,” Kim told the New York Times in an interview published May 10. “We’ve contributed in positive ways toward this country’s growth, but some of the ways in which we’ve suffered have also contributed to this country’s growth. It is both a positive and a negative, but that is exactly what being a part of the fabric of America means.”

In addition to the five-hour documentary, PBS created complementary educational digital content in collaboration with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, to help broaden the narrative.

To catch this documentary, tune in to PBS tonight. And check out the trailer below:

Editor’s Note: Colorlines deputy publisher, Jeff Chang, is featured in two episodes of this documentary. We are very proud of his work in making Asian American history through arts and culture!