The tragic shootings in Georgia on March 16, 2021 resulted in the death of eight people, including seven women, six of whom were of Asian descent. We at the Washington State Historical Society extend sympathy to the families, friends, and loved ones of the eight people who were killed and to the AAPI community.

The horrific increase in incidences of assault, attack, misogynist and racist actions against Asian Americans cannot be tolerated. Washington State Historical Society’s mission is to explore how history connects us all, and that mission is critical in deepening intercultural understanding and engendering respect for our shared humanity.

The Historical Society joins the Smithsonian Institution, the American Historical Association, and our fellow cultural institutions in condemnation of these crimes. We join in solidarity and commitment to the work of critically examining our past and our role in systemic racism. We are committed to uplifting marginalized voices, sharing diverse histories, and creating opportunities to increase intercultural understanding.

Washington’s past is replete with racist and violent actions toward Asian Americans and people of Asian descent as well as other communities of color. Two of the most prominent examples of historic racially motivated mass actions against Asian communities include the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) and resulting expulsion of Chinese people in our state, and the incarceration of Japanese Americans and people of Japanese descent as a result of Executive Order 9066 during WWII. The stark evidence of the hatred and fear that drove the Chinese Exclusion Act can be found in our collections here. The Washington State History Museum will open the Remembrance gallery this spring, focused on the legacy of Executive Order 9066 in our state. The museum’s Great Hall of Washington History provides insight into each of these events, along with other stories of the immigrant experience in Washington.  We invite the community to learn more through our online resources and at the State History Museum when we re-open to the public on April 2.

Our statement of commitment to diversity and inclusion, developed during the summer of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, can be found here. Please also see the following links to resources for learning about the Asian American community and resources regarding responding to hate crimes: