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Chinese Railroad Workers

During the 1860's, Chinese laborers were brought in to help construct the first U.S. trans-continental railroad between the Atlantic & the Pacific coasts. They worked long hours & were underpaid, and most of the time in extreme weather conditions. Many lost their lives in this historic epic, but their contributions were buried & their history untold.

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Chinese Railroad Workers
Yi Kai; Northland Poster Collective
Silkscreen, 1993
Minneapolis, Minnesota
30059
 
The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860's led to a demand for cheap and reliable labor, and Chinese were often recruited because they worked for low wages in very difficult conditions. Despite their hard work and many contributions, Chinese laborers faced discrimination and hostility from their non-Chinese counterparts who blamed them for unemployment and decreasing wages.
 
In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited the immigration of Chinese workers. It was the first law that prevented a specific ethnic group from migrating to the U.S. and was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in U.S. history. The Chinese Exclusion Act was officially repealed on December 17, 1943. Seventy-two years later, the racism and xenophobia that first established the Chinese Exclusion Act is very much alive, with politicians and citizens again attempting to blame specific ethnic groups and religions for broader social and political issues.
In the past few months, hostility towards Mexicans, Syrians, and Muslims has been fueled by presidential candidates whose platforms also propose revoking citizenship from the children of undocumented migrants and banning Muslims from entering the U.S. When will we ever learn?
Poster Text:  
Chinese Railroad Workers  During the 1860's, Chinese laborers were brought in to help construct the first U.S. trans-continental railroad between the Atlantic & the Pacific coasts.  They worked long hours & were underpaid, and most of the time in extreme weather conditions.  Many lost their lives in this historic epic, but their contributions were buried & their history untold.   © 1993 by Yi Kai Northland Poster Collective www.northlandposter.com 1-800-627-3082