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A Photographer’s Mission to Write Asian Americans Back Into History

Photojournalist Corky Lee spent his career documenting Asian-American life — and activism — to puncture stereotypes about the community. 

Students link arms during a demonstration against police brutality in May 1975, following the beating of a Chinese American in Manhattan Chinatown a month earlier.

Students link arms during a demonstration against police brutality in May 1975, following the beating of a Chinese American in Manhattan Chinatown a month earlier.

Photographer: Corky Lee/Corky Lee Estate

In one of the most iconic images highlighting the role of Asian Americans in U.S. civil rights movements, a row of students linked in arms are shouting something as protesters behind them hold up signs calling for the end of oppression and racial discrimination. 

It’s a photo from May 1975, taken during a massive demonstration against police violence by residents of Manhattan’s Chinatown following the brutal beating of a young Chinese-American man.