Watch On-Demand through July 19, or on Passport any time.

Synopsis:

On a hot summer night in Detroit in 1982, Ronald Ebens, an autoworker, killed Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American engineer, with a baseball bat. Although he confessed, he never spent a day in prison.

This gripping Academy Award-nominated film relentlessly probes the implications of the murder, for the families of those involved, and for the American justice system.

About the Film

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of the racially motivated murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, murdered by two white men, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, in Detroit, Michigan on June 19, 1982. The documentary, which originally aired on POV in July 1989, details the incident from initial eye-witness accounts, the ensuing murder trials to the lenient sentences the assailants received, and the repercussions for the families and community involved. “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” also chronicles how the case brought the disparate Asian American communities of Detroit together for the first time, and how they transformed themselves from a grassroots advocacy group into a national movement.”

This information is directly from a press release originally published on American Documentary’s POV. “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” is a co-presentation with Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and CAAM (Center for Asian American Media). Juanita Anderson (now on the board of American Documentary), Nancy Tong, Robert Larson are Executive Producers. Erika Dilday and Chris White are Executive Producers for American Documentary | POV.

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 being seen in 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. One Detroit Senior Producer Bill Kubota explores how Vincent Chin’s legacy has shaped a new wave of Asian American civil rights activists. Plus, he explores how Vincent Chin’s story is being used as a vehicle to educate K-12 students about Asian American history.

Episode 637/Segment ` Watch “One Detroit” Monday and Thursday on Detroit Public TV at 7:30p ET. Or catch the daily conversations on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

June 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder, a hate crime that sparked the modern Asian American civil rights movement still seen today, and Detroit was its epicenter.

It was June 19, 1982, when Chinese American Detroiter Vincent Chin was brutally beaten to death with a baseball bat outside of a nightclub in Highland Park. 

The tragedy struck at a time when Detroit automakers were struggling economically due to the rise in sales of Japanese-imported cars, and was fueled by a rise in anti-Asian sentiment. While the two white men involved in Vincent Chin’s murder were auto workers, though ultimately they served no prison time. All this culminated in a wave of new Asian American civil rights groups across the country, demanding justice for Chin and equality for the Asian American population. 

Episode 635/Segment 1.  Watch “One Detroit” Monday and Thursday on Detroit Public TV at 7:30p ET. Or catch the daily conversations on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Vincent Chin, PBS Books interviewed award-winning author Paula Yoo, author of “From A WHISPER TO A RALLYING CRY: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement”.  It is a groundbreaking portrait of Vincent Chin and the case that took America’s Asian American community to the streets in protest of injustice.  Yoo was interviewed by Zosette Guir, Manager of Detroit Public TV’s One Detroit initiative.

While Paula Yoo’s book was written for a YA audience after significant research, it has captivated audiences of all ages. She has crafted a suspenseful, nuanced, and authoritative portrait of a pivotal moment in Civil Rights history. In this current climate of civil unrest and a country confronting a history of deeply rooted systemic racism, the story of Vincent Chin is as important now as ever. Asian American history is often overlooked and undertaught in schools, and Vincent Chin’s name remains relatively unknown despite making national and international headlines at the time. Now, almost 40 years later, it’s time to remember Vincent Chin and the significant role his case played in American history. 

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the death of Vincent Chin, PBS Books, in collaboration with DPTV, hosted an important conversation about “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” with filmmakers Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña, along with executive producer Professor Juanita Anderson and attorney/activist Jim Shimoura. The conversation will be moderated by Bill Kubota, a Senior Producer at Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit.

Join us to understand more about the process of creating this incredible documentary film, the challenges and obstacles the filmmakers needed to overcome, and the importance of the film. In addition, you can expect to learn about the film’s relevancy in today’s climate; the role of this documentary film in Asian American and Pacific Islander history, and the activism from the 1980s to today.  Given recent Asian American discrimination and hate crimes in the last few years, we encourage a broad audience to join this program to learn about this important documentary film 40 years later.

AAPI Story Series:

Jack Cheng and Paul Pham

At the intersection of their Asian heritage and American upbringing, Jack Cheng and Paul Pham unpack what home really means

For Jack Cheng and Paul Pham, becoming friends could not have come at a better time. Meeting at a mutual friend’s house in Detroit led to a friendship rooted in introspection about their similar experiences — experiences they hadn’t talked about with anybody else before. Jack and Paul talk about the common threads that brought them together.

Two women create lasting bond through AAPI Advocacy, APA Studies course at MSU

Friends Brenda Hu and Meaghan Kozar talk about a pivotal introductory APA studies class at Michigan State University, how representation for Asian Americans has changed, and what keeps them inspired when it comes to advocacy in their everyday lives for One Detroit’s AAPI Stories series.

David Han and Mike Han

Father-son connect through AAPI activism, art and their experiences as Korean Americans

David and Mike Han weren’t always on the same page. The father-son duo had diverged some since Mike’s youth, as Mike shied away from his Korean heritage, but through the years, they’ve learned to listen to each other and understand who they are as individuals.

Lily and Jim

AAPI Story Series | Couple Finds Love Through Communication, Education and Cultural Differences

Within 24 hours of meeting at a conference, Lily Mendoza and Jim Perkinson knew they had found their life partner. Since getting married in 2004, they have built a rich and full life together as activists and educators who challenge their students to think more deeply about race relations and to share their personal stories while navigating the complexities of their relationship

AAPI Story Series | 30-Year Friendship Deepens After the Death of George Floyd

For One Detroit and WDET’s AAPI Story Series, Taiwanese and Chinese American Chien-An Yuan and his friend John Eaton share their reactions to the George Floyd murder and reflect on their shared and divergent experiences growing up in their homogenous Ohio suburb. Plus, the two discuss how their friendship has grown deeper over the last three decades.

Filipino adoptee’s search for his birth family took him across the world, inspired local advocacy

Dan, an adoptee from the Philippines, grew up in the Romeo area in a loving family with a close-knit group of friends, but something always felt off for him. With Joe’s love and support, Dan kept looking for his biological family even when the search seemed futile.

AAPI Story Series

One Detroit, WDET Partner to Tell AAPI Stories from Southeast Michigan

AAPI Story Series: In May 2020, DPTV convened an advisory group with those from the AAPI...

WDET | AAPI Stories: “Our Life Together Has Really Been a Gift”

From our partners at WDET, as part of our joint AAPI Stories project: Lily Mendoza and Jim Perkinson reflect on their relationship, their educational careers and dedication to social justice and how Jim had to learn how to eat like a Filipino.

AAPI News Coverage:

"The Chinese Lady" play at Tipping Point Theatre in Northville, Michigan

‘The Chinese Lady,’ play about first Chinese woman in America, premieres in Michigan

A fourteen-year-old Chinese girl came to America 190 years ago – said to be the first female Chinese immigrant to set foot here during the 1800s. Now a play, “The Chinese Lady” at the Tipping Point Theatre through March 3, recounts the remarkable life of Afong Moy and her Chinese servant Atung. One Detroit’s Bill Kubota visits a dress rehearsal of the show and talks with the cast.

Jollibee fast food

Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee opens its first Michigan location in Sterling Heights

Jollibee, the renowned Filipino fast-food chain, has expanded to Michigan. Known for their fried chicken, peach mango pie, and Filipino-style spaghetti, the new development brings Jollibee’s menu to Sterling Heights. Contributor Daijah Moss visits the new location to hear from Jollibee employees and customers about what the new location means to the community.

Q Bakehouse and Market Founder Rachel Liu Martindale

From engineering to running an Asian American bakery, Rachel Liu Martindale set to open Q Bakehouse and Market

Former engineer turned baker Rachel Liu Martindale shares what propelled her to quit her corporate job to become an entrepreneur and how she’s navigated the challenges of building a business. Plus, she shares the cultural importance and meaning behind the name of her new bakery, Q Bakehouse and Market, opening in early 2024.

Detroit's Chinatowns exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum

Preserving Detroit’s vanished Chinatowns: A journey through 150 years of Chinese American history

The Detroit Historical Museum unveils a new exhibit, “Detroit’s Chinatowns,” which explores the 150-year journey of the city’s Chinese community. The exhibit chronicles the immigrant experience from Ah-Chee’s arrival in 1872 to the vibrant businesses and communal life that characterized the 1970s and 80s. Contributor Chien-An Yuan has the story.

Dominic Pangborn at his final exhibit "Uncrated"

Korean American artist Dominic Pangborn digs out forgotten, unseen works for final exhibit ‘Uncrated’

Korean American artist Dominic Pangborn has unveiled his final exhibit “Uncrated: A Final Retrospective” at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan. The exhibit showcases some of Pangborn’s forgotten and unseen works, offering patrons a glimpse into the artist’s four-decade career. One Detroit’s Bill Kubota has the story.

Curtis Chin in front of his family's former restaurant, Chung's Cantonese Cuisine

Curtis Chin’s new memoir chronicles life lessons learned in a Chinese restaurant

In the heart of Detroit’s bygone Chinatown, a vibrant oasis once thrived and diverse patrons, from celebrities to everyday families, shared more than just meals at Chung’s restaurant. Curtis Chin, a Detroit native, author and activist, takes readers on an evocative journey through his upbringing in Detroit’s former Chinatown in his book, “Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant.”

Madame Butterfly opera

Asian Americans in the arts: A conversation of representation, progress around Detroit Opera’s ‘Madame Butterfly’

One Detroit’s Bill Kubota explores the historical representations in “Madame Butterfly” and how Detroit Opera’s new rendition addresses these cultural concerns with members of Detroit’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

All-Japanese, Japanese American creative team re-imagines ‘Madame Butterfly’ for Detroit Opera 

We’re taking viewers behind the scenes of Detroit Opera’s re-envisioned production of “Madame Butterfly.” Led by an all-Japanese and Japanese American creative team, the production introduces a more culturally resonant portrayal of the iconic opera.

Mike Han: United by Design exhibit

Detroit artist Mike Han debuts his first solo exhibit during 13th annual Detroit Month of Design

Detroit-based designer and artist Mike Han presents his debut solo exhibition during Design Core Detroit’s 13th annual Detroit Month of Design. Han’s inaugural solo exhibit, titled “Mike Han: United by Design,” takes people on a captivating exploration of his creative practice, which is infused with Korean techniques, graffiti inspiration, and modern design elements. The exhibit runs through Sept. 30 at Playground Detroit.

historic building in Detroit's Chinatown demolished

Historic Detroit Chinatown building razed despite city council, Asian American community backlash

Despite backlash from the Asian American community and Detroit City Council, a historic building in Detroit’s former Chinatown has been demolished. The building was at the heart of Chinatown and held significance to the neighborhood.

AAPI Heritage Month roundtable

Examining Michigan’s AAPI Community: A roundtable on the issues, activism and legislative developments

Michigan’s AAPI community finds itself at the forefront of advocating for change, with potential new state legislation, efforts to include AAPI history in public schools, and an outpouring of advocacy and activism shaping the present-day Asian American narrative. One Detroit Senior Producer Bill Kubota leads a roundtable discuss the issues.

Freep Film Festival

2023 Detroit Free Press Film Festival features AAPI film series, Freep-produced documentary

Two Freep Film Festival filmmakers, Suzanne Joe Kai, director of “Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres,” and “Coldwater Kitchen” co-director Brian Kaufman, talk about the creative process behind each of their documentaries.

AAPI community vigil in Madison Heights for the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay victims

Metro Detroit Asian American community holds local vigil for Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay victims

Michigan’s AAPI community gathered in Madison Heights to hold a local vigil for the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay mass shooting victims and those in the community affected by the tragedy.

Bad Axe documentary

‘Bad Axe’ film hits the big screen to tell an Asian-Mexican American family’s story in rural Michigan

Following the breakout success of “Bad Axe,” a documentary about an Asian-Mexican American family navigating COVID and racial tensions in Bad Axe, Michigan, director David Siev and his family talk about the creation of the film and its premiere in theaters across America.

IS/LAND

IS/LAND Premieres ‘Invisible Embrace’ Inspired by Japanese Internment Camp Survivors’ Stories

An archive of oral history interviews with Japanese internment camp survivors has inspired Detroit Asian American artists collective IS/LAND to create “Invisible Embrace,” a performance that provides audiences a space and experience to share, learn and reflect on the experiences of Japanese internment camp survivors. One Detroit Arts & Culture producer Sarah Smith talks with IS/LAND’s Amber Kao.

Asian American civil rights protest

PBS NewsHour | 40 Years After Vincent Chin’s Death, Activists Work to Keep Legacy From Fading

Forty years after Chinese American draftsman Vincent Chin was brutally murdered outside a nightclub in Highland Park in 1982, activists from Detroit and across the nation continue to work to keep Chin’s legacy from fading in the midst of new waves of anti-Asian hate seen today.

Vincent Chin Mural

Artist Anthony Lee commissions new Vincent Chin mural for Detroit’s former Chinatown

One Detroit’s Senior Producer Bill Kubota talks with artist Anthony Lee about the meaning behind his new Vincent Chin mural and the significance of its placement in Detroit’s former Chinatown. Plus, Kubota visits Art Buddies, a budding Asian American artist collective in Southwest Detroit.

Anti-Asian Hate

Rise of Anti-Asian Hate Revives Asian American Civil Rights Movement Sparked by Vincent Chin’s Murder

Nearly 40 years after the racially motivated murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin in Detroit, the hate crime is being seen in 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. One Detroit’s Bill Kubota explores how Vincent Chin’s legacy shaped Asian American civil rights activists today.

Asian American civil rights protest

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

Nearly four decades after the documentary “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” premiered, the filmmakers Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña, alongside Detroit Public TV’s Juanita Anderson, join Detroit-area filmmaker Chien-An Yuan to talk about the making of the documentary, the civil rights movement they covered in real-time, and the significance the film still holds nearly today. 

Who Killed Vincent Chin? Documentary Cover

POV | Academy Award-Nominated Documentary ‘Who Killed Vincent Chin?’ to Get Special Encore Showing June 20

POV, now in its 35th year as America’s longest-running independent documentary series, will present a special encore presentation of the gripping 1987 Academy Award® nominated film, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”, by filmmakers Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Peña, on Monday, June 20, 2022 at 10 p.m. ET.

Vincent Chin's murder

City of Detroit, Community Partners Announce Four-Day Event to Commemorate 40th Anniversary of Vincent Chin Murder

One Detroit’s Bill Kubota takes viewers to Detroit’s former Chinatown on Cass Avenue for an announcement from the City of Detroit, Detroit Public Television and other community partners about the four-day Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance & Rededication. Leaders recount the tragic history of Vincent Chin’s murder and the importance of the event as the AAPI community continues to fight for equality.

Detroit Mayor Duggan to Highlight Upcoming Vincent Chin 40th Event and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan joins Asian American community leaders for a news conference to commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and to announce plans for the Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance & Rededication in Detroit’s historic Chinatown.

Whenever We're Needed Founders Zora and Ceena

Detroit activist group takes stock of progress a year after Atlanta spa shootings

One year after the Atlanta spa shooting, One Detroit and WDET sit down with Whenever We’re Needed to reflect on the first rally they held and the impact they’ve had on the community since the Stop Asian Hate movement began. Plus, they express what it means to be creating and carrying on a legacy of activism together.

Asian American civil rights protest

Four-Day Event Set to Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Murder of Vincent Chin

Forty years after the murder of Vincent Chin and the subsequent miscarriage of justice launched the Asian American Civil Rights Movement, a coalition of national and local groups plans a four-day commemoration in Detroit featuring national conversation on democracy, racial justice and Asian American civil rights.

Vincent Chin Headshot

‘Who Killed Vincent Chin?’ Inducted into Library of Congress’ National Film Registry

The Detroit Public Television-produced 1987 documentary “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” received the ultimate honor this week when it was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and named one of the 25 most influential films this year. The documentary focuses on the brutal murder of 27-year-old Detroiter Vincent Chin in 1982, and the galvanizing effects it had to springboard the Asian American community into political action.

Exiled to Motown Exhibit Tells History of Japanese Americans in Metro Detroit

An exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum called “Exiled To Motown” explores the Japanese...
AAPI Story Series

One Detroit, WDET Partner to Tell AAPI Stories from Southeast Michigan

AAPI Story Series: In May 2020, DPTV convened an advisory group with those from the AAPI...

Asian Americans in Metro Detroit: Rising to be heard

This month, One Detroit hosted a virtual town hall called How We Got Here: The Asian American Experience in Metro Detroit. 

Anti-Asian Hate: From Vincent Chin to Today

This month, One Detroit hosted a virtual town hall called How We Got Here: The Asian American Experience in Metro Detroit. 

Lost Constellations

Lost Constellations: Exploring the Underrepresentation of the AAPI Community in Art

One Detroit associate producer Will Glover talks to journalist, activist, and poet Frances Kai–Hwa Wang about the poem she wrote to accompany a dance performed by AAPI women for the Lost Constellations project, commissioned by the DIA. Plus, they explore the underrepresentation of the AAPI community in the arts and what can be done to further support it.

Detroit Filipino Supper Club cooks up connections to culture, history and community

Featured on One Detroit this Thursday: Detroit Filipino Supper Club co-founder Shane Bernardo cooks up connections to Filipino culture, history, and community by sharing traditional Filipino recipes that boil over with ancestral wisdom and the power to heal.

Fighting Anti-Asian Hate

Ceena Vang has taken the lead as Detroit area Asian Americans find ways to deal with the recent...

Asian Americans Rally

Hundreds gathered in downtown Detroit to speak out in public against violence and discrimination against the AAPI community.

One Detroit’s AAPI Coverage

As the U.S. continues its battle against COVID-19, it is also battling a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Asian Americans: From Vincent Chin to COVID-19

One Detroit takes a look at what some Asian Americans are experiencing and how it connects to an incident here in Detroit nearly 40 years ago.

Asian Americans Under Fire

Databases are being compiled of reported racism against Asian Americans related to the pandemic. Roland Hwang and Richard Mui with Asian Pacific Islander American Vote Michigan are tracking these.

‘Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story’ Screening

Norman Mineta rose in local politics in San Jose, California to become the first Asian American mayor of a major U.S. city, and later a member of Congress.

New Year’s mochi and the recent history of Japanese food in Detroit

In this One Detroit report, we see how a traditional Japanese New Year’s celebration involving the pounding of rice is being replicated at a metro Detroit community center.

The Registry

The Registry profiles veterans who served in the secret Military Intelligence Service (M.I.S.). Thousands of Japanese Americans volunteered for join the M.I.S. to serve and interpreters and interrogators.

Share Vincent’s Story On Social Media

Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance and Rededication Events:

Who Killed Vincent ChinThe following series of events and activities were organized in partnership between the American Citizens for Justice, the Vincent and Lily Chin EstateDetroit Public Television (DPTV), Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and City of Detroit Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship (ACE) department, as part of the Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance and Rededication Event:

  • The Vincent Chin 40th Commemorative Film Series
  • The Midwest Asian American Documentary Filmmakers Covening
  • A National Conversation on AAPIs, America and Democracy
  • An Evening of Asian American Arts, Music and Joy
  • Community Dialogues: Remembrance and Rededication
  • An Interfaith Remembrance Ceremony
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