Sam Chu Lin, Asian American Broadcast Pioneer, Dies
He was an Asian American face on broadcast news decades before it was en vogue, a tireless journalist dedicated to getting Asian American stories broadcast, and a multi-dimensional newsman without peer.
On Sunday, March 5, 2006, the unmistakable voice went silent, as Asian American broadcast pioneer Sam Chu Lin died suddenly in Burbank, Calif. He was 67.
"Its quite a shock for everyone," said his widow Judy.
From coast to coast, news of Chu Lin's unexpected death sent shockwaves.
Both U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) called Chu Lin a journalism pioneer.
"Throughout his career, Sam stood strong against discrimination and helped break down negative stereotypes, all the while conducting himself with a great amount of integrity, credibility, and enthusiasm," said Mineta, a former San Jose congressman and mayor, in a statement.
"Sam was proud of his Chinese American heritage. He wasn't shy about using his roots to make the entire Asian American community, and indeed the world, a better place," Mineta added. "And today thanks in part to Sam, doors and minds that were once shut to Asian Americans are now open and accepting."
Mineta went on to call Chu Lin a "committed journalist and consummate professional."
"And he was a kind, loyal, and generous person," Mineta added. "He is someone whom I was lucky to call a peer, but even more blessed to call a friend."
Chu Lin wrote stories that documented the careers of Mineta and Honda.
Honda called him 'one of the giants of Asian American journalism' and a 'dear friend.'
"His life was one of endless commitment to truth-seeking and justice for all Americans, but especially for his brothers and sisters in the Asian American community," said Honda in a statement.
"His advocacy on behalf of civil rights and justice for Asian Americans...
A Tribute to Sam Chu Lin
Pioneer Asian American Broadcaster
He should have lived much longer because his will and intellect were so young and energetic. Judy must be devastated to have such a life and partner taken away from her -- really just reaching the prime of his mission. His mission was to spread the news, the word, about recognizing the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans to the world at large. This was his way of fighting for truth, justice and the American way. He really believed in that Superman hero credo. Not for the idea of a superman. But for people being champions of justice, and with truth you can have justice. And that was the American way. Honesty, integrity, fairness. That's what he lived and died for. That's what he wanted for Chinese and Asian Americans. He graduated from high school in the mid-fifties. From a town in Mississippi which was a cradle of the blues. Greenville, Mississippi. In an era when Elvis became King. He was there for all of us. Feeding us the news, the views, the feelings, the insights, yea, the wisdom of what he had gathered, found or deduced. When we were down he lifted us up. When we were angry he brought us down to earth, with soothing words of comfort, commiseration, or understanding while bringing other angles into our sights we hadn't seen quite seen in our turbulence. He did this by sharing his stories of the stories he covered.
Congressman Mike Honda, Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus Mourns Death of Journalism Pioneer and Friend, Sam Chu Lin
From U.S. Rep. Mike Honda
15th District (CA) - California
I carry a heavy heart today. A heavy heart over the passing of one of the giants of Asian American Journalism, and my dear friend: Mr. Sam Chu Lin.
Sam was a pioneer; not just in the Asian American Community, but in the entire field of journalism.
A reporter par excellence - news anchor - radio announcer - media consultant - a conscience, of and for, American journalism for almost four decades.
As one of the first Asian American network reporters in New York City, he announced to the nation on CBS News, the fall of Saigon.
He interviewed Presidents and world leaders. He covered earthquakes and major disasters.
He reported from China the government crackdown on the democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.
His life was one of endless commitment to truth-seeking and justice for all Americans - but especially for his brothers and sisters in the Asian American Community.
He believed "informing and helping others is what makes journalism exciting." He also believed his beloved career in journalism was an opportunity to use his roots for a positive purpose.
His relentless pursuit of excellence in journalism was legendary. He once convinced ABC's Nightline to do a program called "Asian American - When Your Neighbor Looks Like the Enemy." After doing so, he helped book the guest, checked the script for accuracy, and found historical footage for the broadcast. He went on to spend the entire next year educating the executive producer about how Asian Americans have been unfairly stereotyped because of the campaign fundraising and spy scandals.
The program went on to be the highest rated show in its time slot beating out both Jay Leno and David Letterman in the national ratings.
Sam was a visionary...
AALDEF Honors Civil Rights Leaders with Justice in Action Awards at 2006 Lunar New Year Gala
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) ushered in the Year of the Dog with their annual Lunar New Year Gala at PIER SIXTY, Chelsea Piers on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006 in New York. More than 850 friends, both old and new, came out to celebrate AALDEFs 2006 "Justice in Action" Award honorees: Ivan K. Fong, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of Cardinal Health, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Harvard Law School professor and civil rights leader, and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation.
AALDEFs Justice in Action Awards recognize exceptional individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions in advancing justice and equality.
In these difficult times, our honorees have promoted a broad vision of civil rights in the law, media, and public policy, said AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung. Their efforts truly reflect the spirit of AALDEFs mission: to advance human rights for all.
Hosting the evenings festivities was WNBC reporter Vivian Lee, who has often brought stories from Asian American communities to the fore. Justice in Action Award honoree Ivan Fong accepted his award from the Hon. Denny Chinthe first Asian American appointed as federal district judge on the East Coastand expressed deep gratitude to Judge Chin and others who inspired his work on behalf of the Asian American community, urging the next generation not to be overwhelmed by cynicism, but to approach the work of justice as simply having integrity: every day, everywhere, in everything that you do.
Katrina vanden Heuvel regaled her listeners with a story of how she stumbled upon AALDEF while an intern at The Nation in 1980, researching Chinese immigrant waiters on strike at Silver Palace restaurant, and praised the dedication AALDEF staff demonstrated in seeing the case through to a $500,000...
32nd Annual Lunar New Year Gala honoring Katrina vanden Heuvel, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., and Ivan K. Fong, 2006 AALDEF Justice in Action Award recipients.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) honors Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor of The Nation magazine, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Harvard Law School Professor, and Ivan K. Fong, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Cardinal Health, with AALDEF Justice in Action Awards at its annual Lunar New Year Gala on Thursday, February 2, 2006 at PIER SIXTY in New York City.
The Justice in Action Award is AALDEFs highest recognition of individuals who have paved the way for racial justice and equality for Asian Americans. Past recipients have included the late civil rights hero Fred Korematsu, filmmaker Mira Nair, attorney Alice Young, and playwright David Henry Hwang.
Proceeds from the gala benefit AALDEF's legal and educational programs in the areas of immigrant rights, economic justice for workers, voting rights and civic participation, affirmative action, language access to services, youth rights and educational equality, and the elimination of hate violence and police misconduct.