Walter U. Lum

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Walter Uriah Lum (Chinese: 林華耀, 1882-1961) was a Chinese American and had advocated for Chinese American rights. He was born in San Francisco.

Biography[edit]

Walter Uriah Lum was president of United Parlor/Grand Lodge for about 12 years. He recreated the Native Sons of the Golden State (later Chinese American Citizens Alliance in 1936) to support Chinese American rights in 1904—against the CEA of 1882 (boycott).

He joined the staff of Young China and was on the crew for 35 years. He transiently worked in the fields of being an editor, translator and reporter.

He was taught the Chinese culture and Language by private Chinese and American tutors. Lum wrote daily newspapers called the Chinese Times for CACA to reach out to the Chinese immigration.

He was vice president and managing director of the Chinese-owned China Mail Steamship Line. When financial difficulties increased, Lum received death threats from one of the “fighting tongs” and had to hire bodyguards. Eventually, he resigned.

There is a street and a scholarship named after him.

Walter had a brother named Joseph K. Lum.

Advocacy[edit]

One of his early political efforts focused upon repealing the Expatriation Act of 1907, which stated "that any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband." This effort failed; the policy in question was later partially repealed by the Cable Act, but still applied if the husband was ineligible for citizenship due to Asian descent.

Lum wanted to block the bill that supported the racial ideas of the Chinese Exclusion Act (Caminette Bill). Caminette Bill made it so that if a father of a Chinese American was not a native American, he would not have the power to vote and as a result, the offspring of that father will also be denied the power.

Lum funded study courses for Chinese Americans that taught 3000 to 4000 characters. The method of teaching in this school was similar to the western way of teaching.

In 1941 Lum started an experimental school that ran two hours a day, five days week and taught about fifty mostly American-born children of members divided into two classes. Lum was the principal and one of the instructors. He seized the opportunity to implement some of his ideas on teaching Chinese to the American-born. The classes used both were in the more easily understood vernacular style and were chosen with an emphasis on teaching vocabulary commonly used in contemporary society. These teaching methods generated some favorable results.

In 1943, the school became a casualty of World War II. Enrollment dropped to twelve. By mid 1943, the school closed.

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