Gordon J. Lau Elementary School is a bustling, modern institution in the heart of Chinatown. Few people know that in its earliest incarnation, it was the focus of a racist school segregation law that led to a diplomatic crisis so serious that President Theodore Rooseveltwas forced to intervene.
It’s no secret that from the 1860s on, San Franciscans were hostile to Chinese immigrants. Trade unionists and blue-collar workers saw the Chinese as economic threats because they would work for less money, and white people in general regarded them as immoral inferiors. In 1882, California lobbying led to congressional passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which froze Chinese …….. read more