NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Renowned Chinese American historian Philip P. Choy died at his San Francisco home on March 16, at age 90.
“I regarded Phil as a hero, and gained deeper admiration every time I heard or read about his advocacy,” said Bettie Luke.
During the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, Choy became president of the Chinese Historical Society of America and in 1969, he teamed up with the late Him Mark Lai to teach the first-ever Chinese American history course at San Francisco State University.
Choy had been invited to the centennial celebration of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1969, but was incensed by the lack of recognition to the Chinese laborers’ role in the project, and he challenged organizers to recognize them.
Luke told the Northwest Asian Weekly she met Choy and his wife in the 1970s, when she was just learning about Chinese American history and advocacy.
She said, “I was immediately impressed to see a Chinese community leader – older than me, be so forceful in speaking out for Chinese American recognition and justice.”
Choy received many honors, including a president’s medal from San Francisco State in 2005.
He also had a major role in the restoration of the Angel Island Immigration Center, and taught and lectured widely. His last book, “San Francisco’s Chinatown,” was published in 2012.
Choy had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. His wife, Sarah, died in 2015. He is survived by his daughter, two sons, and six grandchildren.