AAPIP Voices

Who America Could Be: Stories from Angel Island

In partnership with Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and New Breath Foundation, AAPIP brought more than 150 philanthropic professionals to Angel Island to provide a series of immersive workshops focused on reckoning with the lesser-known history connected to Angel Island. At a time of racial reckoning within the philanthropic sector, this program provided the unique opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander philanthropic professionals to grapple with our own individual histories of forced migration, incarceration, and detention.

Many Asian American communities’ migration stories began at Angel Island. From 1910-1940, Angel Island was designed specifically to institutionalize discrimination against all Asians, including South Asians, Filipinos, and East Asians, and later, was used to detain Japanese Americans during World War II. 

One of these stories is the story of Kehar Singh who immigrated from Punjab and was immediately detained on Angel Island in 1913. Valarie Kaur, the granddaughter of Kehar Singh, shares the story of her grandfather with genealogist and family historian, Grant Din. These stories have remained hidden from mainstream discourse, but sharing these stories allows us to redefine who America could be – an America that learns from its past and embraces a rhetoric of love.