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For filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña, telling the 170 years of Asian American history in the short, few hours of her new documentary series “Asian Americans” on PBS was a nearly impossible task.

Chin’s death and the resulting court case galvanized the Asian American community and still remains a flashpoint in Asian American political activism.

These are the places traditionally thought of as launch points for Asian American history.

When we consulted with Asian American historians and explored the way they have been theorizing and looking at the Asian American story, it made sense to start with the legacy of U.S. empire in the Philippines.

We wanted to shift the narrative of Asian Americans because outside of Asian American studies, I think most American people think the story starts when many arrive after the 1960s.

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