1982 : Vincent Chin, Chinese American, Beaten to Death in Detroit

June 19, 2018 all-day

Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was beaten June 19, 1982, by autoworkers in Highland Park who were angry about the growing success of the Japanese auto industry.

Source : Zlati Meyer, “This Week in Michigan History”, Detroit Free Press, June 14, 2009.

The MSU community also has access to Who Killed Vincent Chin, a streaming video from the Filmakers Library Online. This Academy-Award nominated film is a powerful statement about racism in working-class America. It relates the stark facts of Vincent Chin’s brutal murder. A 27-year-old Chinese-American, Chin was celebrating his last days of bachelorhood in a Detroit bar. An argument broke out between him and Ron Ebens, a Chrysler Motors foreman. Ebens shouted ethnic insults, the fight moved outside, and before onlookers, Ebens bludgeoned Chin to death with a baseball bat. In the ensuing trial, Ebens was let off with a suspended sentence and a small fine. Outrage filled the Asian-American community to the point where they organized an unprecedented civil rights protest. His bereaved mother, brought up to be self-effacing, successfully led a nationwide crusade for a retrial. This tragic story is interwoven with the whole fabric of timely social concerns. It addresses issues such as the failure of our judicial system to value every citizen’s rights equally, the collapse of the automobile industry under pressure from Japanese imports, and the souring of the American dream for the blue collar worker. Widely acclaimed by the press, Who Killed Vincent Chin? is a memorable film for all audiences.

Leave a Reply