Photo exhibit honors Corky Lee an instrumental photographer who captured Asian American history

CeFaan Kim Image
Monday, May 30, 2022
Photo exhibit honors photographer Corky Lee
EMBED <>More Videos

"Photographic Justice: A Tribute to Corky Lee Photo Exhibit" is on display inside the U.S. District Courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It is perhaps the most in-depth photographic collection of every consequential moment in Asian American history captured by an icon who is no longer with us.

"Photographic Justice: A Tribute to Corky Lee Photo Exhibit" is on display inside the U.S. District Courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn.

Lee would often say his camera was his sword to combat racial injustice, and the exhibit features work by 31 other photographers all influenced by him, all carrying on his legacy.

"Look at what this young boy wrote," curator Chee Wang Ng said. "'Racism has happened to me so much, I just don't listen to it anymore.' And guess what, this was in the 80s. And guess what, it's still relevant today."

ALSO READ: AANHPI Heritage Month: Spotlighting the Bangladeshi community and its struggle with racism

For AANHPI Heritage Month we spotlight the Bangladeshi community, which plays an important role in the city yet is taken advantage of in so many ways.

After Vincent Chin was beaten to death in a racially motivated hate crime by two white Detroit auto workers in 1982 who incorrectly assumed Chin was of Japanese descent, it was Lee who captured a mother's anguish.

"The humanity in each of us will say, why is this woman grieving," Wang Ng said.

A photo of railroad workers that erased Chinese workers from history sparked his fire.

Eventually, he'd recreate that photo, gathering six generations, descendants of those missing from history books.

"He wanted to let the world know that people of color, people of Asian descent, we were here and we are here," his brother, Johann Lee, said. "And together, if you don't know what we've done with you or for you, how can we build a better nation?"

Corky Lee passed in January of 2021 from COVID complications.

It's suspected he became ill from patrolling with neighborhood watch groups, protecting Chinatown from anti-Asian violence.

"My dad, he had this penchant for giving the kids heroic names," Johann Lee said. "Corky's Chinese name...loosely translates to 'Raise The Nation.'"

The exhibition runs until November.

CLICK HERE for more information.

ALSO READ: NOAA predicts above average hurricane season, releases storm names

Meteorologist Jeff Smith explains NOAA's 2022 hurricane season predictions.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a News Tip