The Supreme Court of California is finally recognizing a Chinese man who was denied admission to the California State Bar in 1890 by posthumously granting him a law license 125 years later.
Hong Yen Chang died in 1926, but in his lifetime he accomplished much. According to the Spreadit, Chang was born in 1859 or 1860 in Xiangshan, Guandgong Province, China, but came to America when he was 10-years-old. The loss of his father and an opportunity given to him by the Chinese Educational Mission brought him to America to live with an American family.
The very smart Chinese teenager attended Hartford Public High School in Connecticut and then went to the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. It was here, in 1879, that Chang delivered a commencement speech.
Chang had his mind set on law, and soon he enrolled in Yale College. However, in 1881, the Chinese government called all students studying abroad under the Chinese Educational Mission back to China.
Chang did not give up on his hopes of returning to America and attending law school. Two years later, the hopeful Chinese man came back to America and went to Columbia Law School. He became the first Chinese lawyer in America in 1883.
The Chinese Exclusion Act made it nearly impossible for Hong Yen Chang to become a lawyer in America. The New York State Bar dictated that lawyers must be American citizens, and even though Chang had become naturalized, the racist act would not allow Chang to be an American citizen without bending over backward first. Finally, the New York State Legislature passed an act which allowed Hong Yen Chang to apply to the bar.