The Detroit Murder That Galvanized the Asian-American Civil Rights Movement

Nearly 40 years ago, 27-year-old Vincent Chin was murdered by two auto workers in Detroit. The killing outraged Asian-Americans into a movement that continues today.

Cinema Detroit
Cinema Detroit

In the early summer of 1982, a bar fight in Detroit led to the brutal murder of 27-year-old Chinese-American Vincent Chin.

Chin, an engineer and student, suffered repeated beatings with a baseball bat by two Detroit auto workers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz.

In the aftermath, Ebens and Nitz faced only a fine and no jail time for the murder while Chin’s mother Lily was left without her son, and Chin’s fiancee was left without her husband.

The crime catalyzed what became known as the Asian-American Movement. Now, in the wake of renewed violence against the AAPI community, the crime remains as relevant as ever and on Wednesday, April 21, Cinema Detroit will hold a virtual screening of the 1987 documentary, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

After the screening, the theatre will host a panel discussion about the aftermath of the Chin murder with guests including Juanita Anderson, the documentary’s Executive Producer and Paula Yoo, author of the YA non-fiction book, “From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement.”

Click the audio player above to hear Anderson and Yoo discuss what has and what hasn’t changed for Asian-American civil rights in the nearly 40 years since the Chin murder.

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  • Amanda LeClaire
    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.