Video Oral History
International District activist; Journalist; Historian
Doug Chin grew up in Seattle in the 1940s and 1950s, attending Horace Mann
elementary and Garfield High School. After serving in the U.S. military in
the early 1960s, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he soon became
politically active. As a student at San Francisco State University and a
member of the East Bay Chinese Youth Council, Chin was involved in Asian
and Third World student activism in the late 1960s to advocate for minority
rights and ethnic studies programs. Doug Chin returned to Seattle around
1970, and quickly became involved in local Asian American youth movement
activism, particularly around the preservation of the Chinatown/ International
District (ID). In his work for the State Department of Health and as District
Coordinator for the International District in the city’s Department
of Neighborhoods, he focused much of his attention on providing human services
to the diverse population of the ID.
Doug Chin is probably most widely known for his writing. With his brother
Art, he co-wrote the first history of Chinese-Americans in Seattle, Up
Hill: The Settlement and Diffusion of the Chinese in Seattle, Washington (1973). During the 1970s, he wrote regularly in Seattle’s activist
press, starting at Asian Family Affair, then No
Separate Peace, and finally
the International Examiner, where he wrote for a number of years. In 2001,
Chin wrote Seattle's International District: The Making
of a Pan-Asian American Community.
Doug Chin agreed to share memories of growing up in Seattle and his activism
in the labor and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s in
a videotaped interview conducted by Trevor Griffey and Brooke Clark
on March 1, 2005. To the right are streaming-video excerpts of the
interview, each about a minute in length.
Doug Chin speaking at a protest march on HUD's offices in 1973. Photo courtesy of YK Kuniyuki.