Ron Chew, in conversation with Sally Yamasaki - My Unforgotten Seattle

From Third Place Books

Recorded Saturday, February 6, 2021 

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“Seattle would not have been the same without Ron Chew. This book will add to that legacy by deepening our understanding of the city.”—from the foreword by Carey Quan Gelernter Third-generation Seattleite, historian, journalist, and museum visionary Ron Chew spent more than five decades fighting for Asian American and social justice causes in Seattle. 

In this deeply personal memoir, he documents the tight-knit community he remembers, describing small family shops, chop suey restaurants, and sewing factories now vanished. He untangles the mystery of his extended family’s journey to America during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Intimate profiles of his parents—a waiter and garment worker—and leaders like Bob Santos, Ruth Woo, Al Sugiyama, Roberto Maestas, and Kip Tokuda are set against the familiar backdrop of local landmarks such as Sick’s Stadium, Kokusai Theatre, Shorey’s Bookstore, Higo Variety Store, Hong Kong Restaurant, and Chubby &Tubby. 

He highlights Seattle’s unsung champions in the fight for racial inclusion, political empowerment, American ethnic studies, Asian American arts, Japanese American redress, and revitalization of the Chinatown-International District. Chew himself led a successful campaign to transform a historic hotel into the Wing Luke Museum’s permanent home. 

Ron Chew served as editor of the International Examiner and as executive director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. His books include Reflections of Seattle’s Chinese Americans: The First 100 Years and Remembering Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes: The Legacy of Filipino American Labor Activism. Sally Yamasaki has been a Lake Forest Park community member since 1960. Her roots from her father began in Seattle’s Nihonmachi, and Worland Wyoming from her mother.

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