After 150 Years, Is L.A. Ready to Remember the Chinese Massacre?

Long Buried, the Bloodiest Night in the City’s History Surfaces Amid a New Wave of Violence

It’s hard to tell a city’s story. In many cities, there’s a tension between pointing with pride and bowing in shame.

Los Angeles—where I have lived and worked for most of my life, including my years as an elected official—has long preferred the civic booster side of its identity, promoting itself as a city of the future. But L.A. also struggles to face the dark, violent, and racist episodes in its past.

One of the bloodiest nights in Los Angeles history took place 150 years ago, on October 24, 1871, when at …

Where I Go: The Geology of Memory | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: The Headlands of Yehliu

It Took Me 20 Years and Five Visits to Develop My Own Relationship to Taiwan

I was hiking the Port Orford Heads State Park on the coast of Southern Oregon this summer when I realized how closely the rock formations and coastline resemble the rugged …

Where I Go: The Nature Preserve of Memory  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: The Nature Preserve of Memory 

Torrey Pines—A Mythic Hike in My Childhood Imagination—Feels Fragile Now

Like a giant’s sandy belly rising up from the gentle chill of the ocean, Torrey Pines Natural Reserve was a mythic force in my childhood imagination. Yet during a recent …

Don’t Tear Down L.A.’s Notorious Men’s Central Jail  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Don’t Tear Down L.A.’s Notorious Men’s Central Jail 

Transforming the Facility Into a Museum and Democracy Center Would Allow California to Remember Its Carceral Cruelty—And Create a Different Future

One of California’s most notorious jails could close in 2021. But if the state truly wants to leave its carceral history in the past and create a more open and …

The Writer as Witness | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Writer as Witness

Why We Need Literature to Document Atrocities—at Home and Abroad

For a long time, I cringed whenever I heard someone talk about a novel or a poem bearing witness. The word “witness” bothered me. It felt hollow and privileged. It …

A College Founded on an Antebellum Plantation Digs Into the Darkness of Its Past | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A College Founded on an Antebellum Plantation Digs Into the Pain of Its Past

How Sweet Briar Is Finally Remembering the Enslaved People Who Built—And Were Buried Beneath—Its Campus

Twenty years ago, an equestrian instructor at Sweet Briar College in rural Virginia stumbled over a stone in one of the horseback riding rings. It turned out to be a …