Angel Island – Voices of Resilience

Angel Island – Voices of Resilience

Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, millions of people — in numbers which have not been seen since — came to America in pursuit of a better, freer life.

On the east coast, most of the huddled masses were met by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. On the west coast, between 1910 and 1940, most were met by the wooden buildings of Angel Island. These immigrants were Australians and New Zealanders, Canadians, Mexicans, Central and South Americans, Russians, and in particular, Asians. There, during this period of great migration, they would meet with a reception quite unlike that given to European immigrants on the East Coast. The reasons for this reception, and the story of this journey, as usual, have their roots in the past.

Fifty years ago, Alexander Weiss found long-lost poems carved into the detention barracks walls. This discovery led to the Angel Island Immigration Station’s rebirth as a National Historic Landmark. To commemorate this golden jubilee, we present Voices of Resilience, an online exhibition celebrating poems from the site’s history as well as poems submitted by the public.

Poem 45  is one of the poems carved into the Detention Barrack Walls at Angel Island. The sense of sadness and frustration that his words convey are intertwined with the emotions that today’s immigrants, who are currently detained,  must also be feeling.


 Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation