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The Story of Corky Lee Being Made into a Film

Transcontinental Railroad Golden Spike Recreation
The 145th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in Ogden, Utah with Chinese Americans and descendants of the Chinese railroad workers. Photo by Corky Lee.

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

If you have any interest in the Asian American community, chances are you’ve seen photographs by Corky Lee.

He’s been documenting Asian America through pictures for almost five decades.

Lee first came on the national scene in 1975 when he took a picture of a Chinese American man allegedly being mistreated by the New York Police Department. That photograph made the front page of the New York Post and inspired 20,000 people to march against police brutality.

Among his most famous photographs is a re-creation of the celebration of the Golden Spike marking the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Only this time, he made sure Chinese Americans were included in the celebration, correcting an egregious omission 145 years earlier.

Just this past month, Lee organized a candlelight vigil and photo exhibit in Nevada in front of the home of Ronald Ebens. Ebens is one of two men who beat Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat. He’s never spent a day in prison for the crime. He still owes Chin’s family $10 million dollars from a civil judgment against him.

Now producer/director Jennifer Takaki is producing a documentary on Lee’s stellar career along with co-producer Stan Nakazono.

Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story is described as “a timely and intimate portrayal of a photographer on a quest to ensure that the rich tapestry of Asian American life – its struggles and celebrations – is preserved, and documented in mainstream media.

“The 69-year old photographer’s singular focus for almost a half-century has been documenting New York City’s Asian American community.
An accomplished photojournalist with a keen sense of history and social justice, Corky’s dedication tells the little-known struggle of Asians in America, including civil rights protests, racist immigration legislation, and violence towards Sikhs and Muslims of Asian descent since 9/11. He’s also a big supporter of Asian women’s rights.”

If you’re interested in supporting this project, you can donate here.

Official Promo “Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story” from Jennifer Takaki on Vimeo.


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