Viral Histories: Stories of Racism, Resilience, and Resistance in Asian American Communities

May 18-21, 2020

During this pandemic, Asian Americans have been experiencing increased racism and hate crimes. While these incidents of increased prejudice and violence occur today, they reflect a long history of how power, prejudice, and public health have intersected throughout American history.

Join us for (digital) conversations with community leaders combating racism while serving on the front lines. Community leaders will share their first-hand experience with historians from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, who will connect these experiences to the past.

The week of May 18, a new interview video will be released Monday through Thursday at 9:00 am EDT, followed by an opportunity for a live Q&A with some of the featured speakers every day at 3:00 pm EDT.

The videos will be appropriate for high school students as well as curious adults. Resources will be available for teachers to make this part of their distance learning plans. 

Schedule    Call to Action   Educational Resources     Speakers      


An interview exploring the day's featured question will be released every day at 9:00 am. Each conversation has an accompanying Learning Lab collection that includes historic resources and can be used by teachers in distance learning..

What drives us to build community strength and resiliency during an emergency?

Monday, May 18

What do we take for granted? How does this inform the choices we make?

Tuesday, May 19 

What is our responsibility to examine the assumptions we have about others?

Wednesday, May 20

How do we maintain strength and community after an emergency is over?

Thursday, May 21 

Thank you for joining us!

Call to Action 

How will you choose to strengthen and build community in the middle of an emergency?

Continue exploring this history

These educational resources include exemplars of individuals and organizations, today and in the past, who have answered this question in different ways. 

Educational Resources

Each video and question is accompanied by a Learning Lab with related educational resources and artifacts. You can explore them all here, or by question through the list below.

Looking for even more connections? Here are addtional lesson plans and educational resources.


Featured Guests

Abigaile De Mesa

A woman in PPE. Abigaile De Mesa was born in Manila, Philippines, and migrated to the U.S when she was seven. She grew up in New Jersey and haven’t moved since. Throughout her nursing career, De Mesa worked in the Med-Surg, Telemetry, and Pediatric Units. She also had an opportunity to work in the Operating Room for a year. Before becoming a Patient Care Coordinator two years ago, De Mesa was a staff nurse, took on the role of a preceptor, and acted as a charge nurse. She enjoys being hands on and be involved within the organization. 

Ruby Ibarra 

A woman.Ruby Ibarra is a rapper and spoken word artist from the Bay Area, CA. She released her debut album, CIRCA91 at the end of 2017 and has since toured across the United States at universities, empowerment conferences, music venues, and spaces such as - the National Mall in DC, The Getty Center, and the De Young Museum. Ruby has been featured on notable publications such as NPR, Huffington Post, South China Morning Post, Buzzfeed, XXL Magazine and was featured in a Grammys/MasterCard commercial and campaign with R&B singer SZA. Ruby’s music is available on all digital platforms and can be heard in several museum exhibits, films and television features.

Russell Jeung

A man in a collared shirt.Russell Jeung is Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. A scholar of race and religion, he's written At Home in Exile: Finding Jesus Among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors. With Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), he helped to establish the Stop AAPI Hate center.

Max Leung

A man in a mask. A native of San Francisco and a second generation Chinese American, Max Leung is a founder of SF Peace Collective. With a history of community organizing and being involved in local activism, when Max isn’t volunteering, he enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball, eating vegan food and hanging out with his two cats.

Genevieve Villamora

A woman with long hairGenevieve Villamora is co-owner of Bad Saint, a James Beard Award-winning Filipino restaurant in Washington, D.C. The restaurant features regional food from throughout the Philippine archipelago using the bounty of the Mid-Atlantic. Before her career in the restaurant industry, Genevieve worked at local nonprofit organizations in D.C. for a decade.


Lintaro Donovan

A young man in front of the Washington Monument.Lintaro Donovan is an incoming freshman at Dartmouth College, planning to major in History and Government. A proud member of the Montgomery Blair High School Communication Arts Program Class of 2020, he served as the 2019-2020 Youth Governor of the Maryland YMCA Youth & Government program. He presided over statewide delegations, model government conferences, and leadership development events. Inspiring this program of 300 high school students from schools across Maryland, he worked to engage his peers in the political process and represent the youth voice at the state and national levels. Lintaro’s goal in life is to be an advocate for citizen-focused government by becoming an elected official and leader. For him, increasing civic engagement and faith in government is a guiding mission.

Theodore S. Gonzalves

A man in a tropical shirt.Theodore S. Gonzalves is a scholar of comparative cultural studies, focusing on the experiences of Asian American / Filipino American communities. He has taught in the United States (California, Hawai'i, and Maryland), Spain, and the Philippines. Gonzalves is Curator in the Division of Cultural and Community Life at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. He served as the twenty-first president of the Association for Asian American Studies.