Nearly 40 years after the racially motivated murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin in Detroit, which sparked the modern Asian American civil rights movement, the hate crime is seeing a new light alongside a more recent rise in anti-Asian hate across the country; one that looks similar to Chin’s case, but some experts say is much worse.

Back in 1982, when Vincent Chin was murdered by two autoworkers, a wave of anti-Asian sentiment swept over Detroit and the nation as it was mired in recession and Detroit automakers were losing market share to Japanese car company Toyota. Today, the murder of Vincent Chin resonates with a new wave of anti-Asian hate, heard through rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic and seen in the tragic Atlanta spa shootings and other racially motivated killings that have targeted Asian Americans.

RELATED: Through A New Lens: Revisiting ‘Who Killed Vincent Chin?’, Asian American Civil Rights Nearly 40 Years Later 

RELATED: Artist Anthony Lee Commissions New Vincent Chin Mural For Detroit’s Former Chinatown

As the story of Vincent Chin’s murder sees a resurgence and connects to the continued anti-Asian hate still seen, One Detroit’s Senior Producer Bill Kubota explores how Vincent Chin’s legacy has shaped a new wave of Asian American civil rights activists. He talks with members of the American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), who began the fight for justice in Detroit as Chin’s case erupted into the national spotlight, and Asian American student activists from the University of Michigan about how Chin’s legacy informs their activism and advocacy for the Asian American community.

Then, Kubota talks with a few organizations Whenever We’re Needed and Eastern Michigan University’s Healthy Asian Americans Project — about the work they’re doing to help, and he looks at the increasing population of Asian Americans in Michigan, including large communities of Bangladeshi and Burmese refugees and a new Chinatown forming in Madison Heights. Plus, he explores how Vincent Chin’s story is being used as a vehicle to educate K-12 students about Asian American history with State Senator Stephanie Chang, University of Michigan Asian American history professor Roland Hwang and ACJ activist Mary Kamidoi

Want to Know More About “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

“Who Killed Vincent Chin?” will air on Detroit Public Television at 10 p.m. ET on June 20. Plus, four days of local and national events commemorating the 40th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s death will take place June 16-19. Check out One Detroit’s AAPI News & Stories coverage here.


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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.