Historic anti-racism banner donated to Smithsonian by Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association

A banner carried by members of San Francisco’s Chinese community during one of the country’s first anti-racism marches in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is heading to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The long red banner reads “Fight the Virus, NOT the People” in English and “Together we support the businesses, (we are) against discrimination” and “(We) support fighting the global pandemic, with courage and determination” in Cantonese.

It was carried through the streets of Chinatown on Feb. 29, 2020, during one of the first marches organized to bring attention to and calling for action against the increase of anti-Asian hate. “This one artifact shows how members of the oldest Chinatown in North America challenged scapegoating during a public health crisis, a story that traces the ongoing discrimination and violence faced by people of Asian American descent and illuminates their resiliency,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director, in a news release May 9.

The banner was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History by the San Francisco Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association during a ceremony May 10 at the Chinese Six Companies office at 843 Stockton St. in San Francisco. “The CCBA is honored that the Smithsonian acknowledges what happened to the Chinese and Asian Americans during the 2020-2022 pandemic,” said CCBA President Walter Wong.

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