Rozic, Kim, Niou Statement on the Passing of Distinguished Professor and Activist Peter Kwong

March 29, 2017
Albany, NY – In response to the passing of Peter Kwong, former Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College, Assemblymembers Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows), Ron Kim (D-Flushing), and Yuh-Line Niou (D,WF-Lower Manhattan) issued the following statement:

“Through his decades long career, Professor Peter Kwong made an indelible mark on the study of Asian America, labor rights, and urban affairs that significantly informs how we think about these issues today,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “His commitment to thoughtfully documenting the ever changing dynamics of New York City and residents moving in and out of it yields a body of work that bolsters my colleagues and my ability to serve our constituencies. By adopting this resolution in the New York State Assembly, my colleagues and I hope to signal the value of continuing to support the work of other individuals like Professor Kwong.”

“Peter Kwong was a remarkable individual and influential figure in the field of Asian American studies,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim. “He was a voice for the many, diverse experiences of Asian Americans in our country’s history, and devoted much of his life to telling the stories of the marginalized and dispossessed, of those who often could not speak for themselves. Though we mourn his passing, we also celebrate his legacy - including the considerable and distinguished body of work he has left behind. I am proud to join my colleagues in passing this resolution honoring his life's work.”

“Over the years, Peter Kwong’s work has highlighted the struggles and achievements of the Asian American community, and his passing is a tremendous loss to New York State,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “Peter Kwong’s work challenged views about the Asian American community, and helped tell the story of complex communities through studies of their neighborhoods, associations and relationships. I join Assemblymembers Rozic and Kim in memorializing Peter Kwong and his decade’s worth of work through this Assembly resolution, and in expressing our deepest condolences to his family for their loss.”

Peter Kwong was born in the People’s Republic of China in 1941 and built his career in the United States as a scholar of Asian American studies, urban affairs and sociology. As a scholar he became a leading expert on the history of Chinese immigration to the United States. Through his published books, award-winning journalism and documentary filmmaking, Peter Kwong’s work focused on the intersections of immigration and labor through the lens of race, class struggles, and activism.

“Professor Kwong distinguished himself as a scholar, journalist and film maker; but most of all he was a passionate activist who advocated for the fair treatment of people who are marginalized by poverty and discrimination. His commitment to social justice defined every sphere of his work,” said Professor Joseph Viteritti, Chair, Department of Urban Policy and Planning at CUNY Hunter College.

This week, the New York State Assembly adopted a resolution honoring his life’s work and legacy.

The full text of the reso can be found below.

MOURNING the death of Peter Kwong, distinguished citizen and pioneering journalist, documentary filmmaker, and scholar of Asian American studies, urban affairs, and sociology

WHEREAS, It is the custom of this Legislative Body to pay tribute to the people of the State of New York whose lifework and civic endeavors served to enhance the quality of life in their communities and the great State of New York; and

WHEREAS, Peter Kwong, a Taiwanese American and former professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center and Hunter College, passed away on Friday, March 17, 2017; and

WHEREAS, Peter Kwong was born in Chungking, China, but built his career in the United States as a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and scholar of Asian American studies, urban affairs, and sociology; and

WHEREAS, As a documentary filmmaker, Peter Kwong created the Emmy award-winning documentary, “Third Avenue: Only the Strong Survive” and the Academy award-nominated documentary, “China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”; and

WHEREAS, As a journalist, Peter Kwong wrote for a variety of esteemed publications including The Nation, the International Herald Tribune, the Globe and Mail, the Village Voice and City Limits; and

WHEREAS, As a scholar, Peter Kwong authored many books including Chinese America: The Untold Story of America’s Oldest New Community, Forbidden Workers: Chinese Illegal Immigrants and American Labor, The New Chinatown, and Chinatown, New York: Labor and Politics, 1930-1950; and

WHEREAS, Peter Kwong also co-authored many books with his wife, historian Dusanka Miscevic, including Chinese Americans: An Immigrant Experience and Chinese America: The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community; and

WHEREAS, Armed with a fierce intellectual curiosity toward showcasing the diversity and nuances of the Asian immigrant and Asian American experiences, Peter Kwong leaves behind a legacy that will remain a source of inspiration and knowledge to all he befriended, educated, and mentored; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to mourn the death of Peter Kwong, distinguished individual, passionate scholar, and devoted member of his community; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be transmitted to the family, friends, colleagues, and students of Peter Kwong.