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Film depicts life in Riverside's Chinese sister city

"Wuyi Roots" -- a film on the homeland of Chinese who settled in Riverside, will begin Sunday at the Main Library in Riverside.

The eight-part documentary is the story of Riverside's sister-city Jiangmen and the five-county Wuyi district in Guangdong Province, Southern China. Chinese from the Wuyi district came to California in 1849 to work in the goldfields, on the railroad, and then in Riverside's citrus industry, organizers stated.

The three-part screening will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27 and Oct. 25, according to the Inlandia Institute, which is presenting the series.

"We think the history of Chinatown, and the history of Riverside and the history of California is a very important thing, and it should be noted, treasured and protected," said Jean Wong, of the Save Our Chinatown Committee, one of the sponsors of the film screening.

The Save Our Chinatown Committee has sued the city of Riverside and the Riverside County Office of Education to protect remnants of a historic Chinese settlement in Riverside.

One of the interests in the committee is to try to educate the community about the local history of the Riverside Chinatown, or little Gom-Benn, as the early Chinese named it, Wong said. Many people don't know that Riverside Chinatown was called little Gom-Benn, after one of the counties in the Wuyi district, Wong said.

Visitors from Jiangmen, one of Riverside's sister cities, plan to visit this winter, said Marion Mitchell-Wilson, executive director of the Inlandia Institute, which is dedicated to promoting the arts and literature of the Inland area.

"I thought, gee this is a wonderful way to educate Riverside about one of our sister cities," Mitchell-Wilson said.

The program will be introduced by Dr. Vince Moses of the International Relations Council, Dr. Dale Kinnear, John W. North High School Principal and historian Kate Whitmore. They will also lead the concluding question and answer session.

The four-hour documentary covers the history of the Wuyi area, the emigration of the people, their lives and struggles in California, their subsequent achievements here and the development of Jiangmen as a vibrant urban center.

The documentary film series is sponsored by the Riverside Hua Xia Chinese School, the Social Justice Committee of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Riverside, the International Relations Council, the Riverside Historical Society and the Mission Inn Museum, an Inlandia Institute news release said.

Reach Marlene Toscano at 951-368-9660 or [email protected].

By MARLENE TOSCANO
Source: pe.com The Press-Enterprise


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