The First Chinese American Woman to Vote in the U.S. | Unladlylike2020 | American Masters | PBS

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Tye Leung Schulze resisted domestic servitude and an arranged child marriage to provide translation services and solace to Asian immigrant victims of human trafficking in San Francisco. She became the first Chinese American woman to work for the federal government and the first Chinese American woman to vote in a U.S. election.

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Tye Leung Schulze (1887-1972), the youngest daughter of low-income immigrants from China, escaped from domestic servitude at age 9, and an arranged marriage at age 12. She began her career translating for victims of human trafficking in San Francisco’s Chinatown working for Donaldina Cameron’s Presbyterian Mission Home. In 1910, she became the first Chinese American woman to work for the federal government, as assistant matron and interpreter at the Angel Island Immigration Station, a detention center designed to control the flow of Asian immigrants into the U.S. under the Chinese Exclusion Act. While there, she fell in love with a white immigration inspector, Charles Schulze, and married him against both their parents’ wishes and California’s anti-miscegenation laws. In 1912, one year after California granted women the right to vote, Leung Schulze became the first Chinese American woman to vote in a U.S. election. Interviewees: Julia Flynn Siler, author of The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery; Theodore Schulze, grandson of Tye Leung Schulze; Judge Toko Serita, New York Acting Supreme Court Justice who presides over the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court and the Queens County Criminal Court.


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