Corky Lee Biography: The Eye Behind the Lens – Documenting Asian American History and Advocacy


Corky Lee Biography: The Eye Behind the Lens – Documenting Asian American History and Advocacy

Corky Lee Biography

Corky Lee was a prominent Asian American photojournalist and activist who dedicated his life to documenting the Asian American experience and advocating for their representation. He was born on June 23, 1947, in Queens, New York, and unfortunately, he passed away on January 27, 2021.

Here is a brief biography of Corky Lee:

1. Early Life:

Corky Lee, whose real name was Young Kwok Lee, was the son of Chinese immigrants.

He grew up in Queens, New York, and was deeply influenced by the civil rights and social justice movements of the 1960s.

2. Photography Career:

Corky Lee’s passion for photography began during his time at Queens College.

He focused on documenting the Asian American community’s struggles, triumphs, and everyday life.

He was known for his iconic photograph of the “Golden Spike” ceremony commemorating the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, in which he famously asked, “Where is the Chinese worker?” This image became a symbol of the Chinese contribution to American history.

His work has been featured in numerous publications, and he gained recognition as one of the most important photographers capturing the Asian American experience.

3. Activism:

Corky Lee was not just a photographer but also a dedicated activist.

He used his photography to raise awareness about issues like immigration, racism, and the challenges faced by Asian Americans.

He actively participated in community events and protests, advocating for Asian American rights and representation.

Lee played a significant role in advocating for the recognition of the Chinese railroad workers’ contribution to American history.

4. Legacy:

Corky Lee’s photography and activism left an indelible mark on the Asian American community and beyond.

His work helped to raise awareness and bring attention to the struggles and achievements of Asian Americans.

After his passing, he continues to inspire the next generation of photographers, activists, and Asian Americans to tell their own stories and demand recognition.

Corky Lee’s dedication to capturing the Asian American experience and his tireless efforts to advance the community’s rights and representation have made him a beloved and respected figure in the Asian American community and in the world of photography. His legacy lives on through his photographs and the impact he made during his lifetime.

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