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Stream now or tune in Tuesdays, May 11 - June 8, 2021 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Sikh patriot. Explore the impact of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing raci...

Credit: Courtesy of Corky Lee

Above: Sikh patriot. Explore the impact of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, on the country’s past, present and future, told through individual lives and personal histories.

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The most ambitious television chronicle of the Asian American story in the United States

A five-part documentary series explores the impact of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, on the country’s past, present and future, told through individual lives and personal histories.

Led by a team of Asian American filmmakers, including Academy Award®-nominated series producer Renee Tajima-Peña ("Who Killed Vincent Chin?," "No Más Bebés"), ASIAN AMERICANS examines the significant role of Asian Americans in shaping American history and identity, from the first wave of Asian immigrants in the 1850s and identity politics during the social and cultural turmoil of the twentieth century to modern refugee crises in a globally connected world.


ASIAN AMERICANS is a five-hour film series that will chronicle the contributions, and challenges of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing ethnic group in America. Personal histories and new academic research will cast a fresh lens on U.S. history and the role Asian Americans have played in it.

“As America’s home for documentaries, PBS is committed to telling stories that illuminate and celebrate the rich diversity of our country,” said Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “We are proud to share this important series with our audiences, and to deepen understanding about the extraordinary impact of Asian Americans on our national identity.”

Asian Immigrants Helped Build the Silicon Valley

Jerry Yang was part of the Asian American 1.5 generation, who were born in Asia but immigrated to the U.S. as children. With their bicultural experience and networks, he and other Asian immigrant entrepreneurs helped to establish Silicon Valley as the center of the global tech industry.


Episode 1 “Breaking Ground” repeats Tuesday, May 11 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV - See how new immigrants from China, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond, despite anti-Asian laws, still manage to build railroads, dazzle on the silver screen and take their fight for equality to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Astonishing Story of the Men Who Built the Railroad

They were young men with dreams who began their lives in America building the Transcontinental Railroad. They blasted through mountains of granite and endured brutal conditions to lay tracks that connected the Pacific to the Atlantic. Some, like Lee Wong Sang, became forebearers of Asian American families that thrive to this day.

Episode 2: “A Question of Loyalty” repeats Tuesday, May 18 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV - Meet an American-born generation that straddles the U.S. and their parents’ homelands in Asia. Loyalties are tested during World War II, when families are imprisoned in detention camps and brothers find themselves on opposite sides of battle lines.

For Susan Ahn, WWII Was a Fight for America and Korea

In the lead up to WWII, Korean Americans were united by loyalty to America and resistance to Japanese rule of their homeland. Susan Ahn Cuddy was the US-born daughter of Dosan Ahn Chang-ho, a legendary community leader who died while imprisoned by Japan. She vowed to join the war effort and became the first Asian American woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy, and its first female gunnery officer.

Episode 3: “Good Americans” repeats Tuesday, May 25 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV - Learn how Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a model minority and targeted as the perpetual foreigner during the Cold War. It is also a time of bold ambition, as Asian Americans aspire to national political office.

Patsy Mink: The First Woman of Color in the U.S. Congress

Patsy Mink always defied the odds. She was one of two women in her law school class, and when law firms wouldn’t hire her, she hung her own shingle. In 1964 she defied Hawaii democratic party bosses and ran for U.S. Congress, and was the first woman of color to be elected to the office. She championed civil rights and women’s rights and carved a path for generations of women leaders.

Episode 4: “Generation Rising” repeats Tuesday, June 1 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV - Follow a young generation’s fight for equality in the fields, on campuses and in the culture, claiming a new identity: Asian Americans. New immigrants and war refugees expand the population and definition of Asian America.

Tereza Lee Was the Inspiration for the Dream Act

Tereza Lee was a promising young pianist who grew up with a secret. Her family was undocumented, and they feared that if discovered the family could be separated and face deportation. When a U.S. Senator heard her story, he introduced the 2001 DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented youth who immigrated as children. Tereza was the first “dreamer.”

Episode 5: “Breaking Through” repeats June 8 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV - Revisit the turn of the millennium, when Asian Americans are empowered by growing numbers and rising influence but face a reckoning of what it means to be an American in an increasingly polarized society.

Hari Kondabolu Recalls the Perilous Days After 9/11

Hari Kondabolu is a comedian by trade, born and bred in Queens, New York. But he recalls that in the xenophobic atmosphere after the attacks of 9/11, he and other South Asian Americans were targeted as foreigners, even terrorists.


With the PBS Video App, you can stream your favorite and local station shows. Download it for free on your favorite device. The app allows you to catch up on recent episodes and discover award-winning shows.

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PBS is on Facebook and Instagram. Follow @PBS on Twitter. #AsianAmPBS

Satsuki Ina Was Born American but Looked Like the Enemy

What is the meaning of loyalty when you look like the enemy? Satsuki Ina was born in a prison camp during World War II. Her family was among 120,000 Japanese Americans, most of whom were U.S. citizens, who were forced from their homes on the west coast and incarcerated without due process or a trial. When her parent’s loyalty was questioned, the family was torn apart.


A production of WETA Washington, DC and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) for PBS, in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), Flash Cuts and Tajima-Peña Productions. The series executive producers are Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan for WETA; Stephen Gong and Donald Young for CAAM; Sally Jo Fifer for ITVS; and Jean Tsien. The series producer is Renee Tajima-Peña. The producer for Flash Cuts is Eurie Chung. The episode producers are S. Leo Chiang, Geeta Gandbhir and Grace Lee. The consulting producer is Mark Jonathan Harris.


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