Flushing congresswoman requests stamp to recognize Chinese immigrant laborers who helped build Transcontinental Railroad

Photo via Flickr/Marion Doss

Congresswoman Grace Meng is calling for a commemorative postage stamp in honor of the approximately 12,000 Chinese immigrant laborers who helped build America’s Transcontinental Railroad from 1865-1869.

Meng, joined by 34 other members of Congress including senators, sent a letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee on Thursday, Feb. 7 to recommend the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp ahead of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the railroad’s completion on May 10.

“Almost 150 years ago, thousands of Chinese railroad workers, through their sweat, blood, and labor, made enormous contributions to our country by bridging together the east and west coasts of our nation,” said Meng. “It is important for us to commemorate their efforts, and recognize their stories, so that their role in America’s history is not forgotten. These workers endured both the arduous physical labor of constructing a railroad and the emotional trauma of being discriminated. I am thankful for all they did to help the United States grow and prosper and for the important mark they left in the Asian American community. It’s time to award them with this long overdue recognition.”    

Meng has been working toward the creation of a stamp for the 150th anniversary since 2014. The Congresswoman sent a letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee and U.S. Postmaster General in 2016, and further discussed the idea with officials from the United States Postal Service. She also reintroduced a resolution in the last Congress that called for the stamp to be issued.

“These early laborers are significant to the Asian American community for their pioneering work at a time of constant racism and discrimination that eventually opened doors for future generations,” Meng said in her letter.

According to Meng, there is community support among Asian Americans nationwide for a commemorative stamp as illustrated by a petition started by the US-Asia Institute that accumulated over 7,000 supporters.

“Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. Accordingly, it is critical to recognize the significance of the Chinese railroad workers and share their stories by embedding them into a part of our daily life,” said Meng.

In addition to her current letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, Meng has requested a meeting on the issue with Postmaster General Megan Brennan, and the Congresswoman will soon introduce a resolution to recognize and honor the Chinese railroad workers.

The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee recommends and evaluates stamp proposals on behalf of the Postmaster General, the chief executive officer of the Postal Service.

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