Serve the People

Serve the People:Making Asian America in the Long Sixties

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A narrative history of the movement that turned “Orientals” into Asian Americans

The political ferment of the 1960s produced not only the Civil Rights Movement but others in its wake: women's liberation, gay rights, Chicano power, and the Asian American Movement. Here is a definitive history of the social and cultural movement that knit a hugely disparate and isolated set of communities into a political identity--and along the way created a racial group out of marginalized people who had been uncomfortably lumped together as Orientals.
The Asian American Movement was an unabashedly radical social movement, sprung from campuses and city ghettoes and allied with Third World freedom struggles and the anti-Vietnam War movement, seen as a racist intervention in Asia. It also introduced to mainstream America a generation of now internationally famous artists, writers, and musicians, like novelist Maxine Hong Kingston.
Karen Ishizuka's definitive history is based on years of research and more than 120 extensive interviews with movement leaders and participants. It's written in a vivid narrative style and illustrated with many striking images from guerrilla movement publications. Serve the People is a book that fills out the full story of the Long Sixties.


  • “This text is foundational for understanding the development of Asian American consciousness as relevant identity for political work and organizing in the context of a decade of Civil Rights work we typically think of as dominated by African American and gender organizing.”

    Melissa Harris-PerryElle
  • “With meticulous research and more than a hundred interviews, Karen Ishizuka traces the links between Yellow Power and other radical movements. This engaging book breaks through to new levels of insight into this still-neglected movement of far-reaching influence.”

    Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People
  • “We weren’t born ‘Asian American.’ It’s a political identity, forged in the fires of struggle, community and consciousness. Serve the People chronicles the hard-fought history of a new awareness—the story of how we became Asian America."

    Phil Yu, Angry Asian Man