The conclusion charts what host Bill Moyers calls the “striking rise to the top rung of American life” by many Chinese-Americans since the late 1960s, when national immigration quotas were set aside. Moyers profiles eight successful Chinese-Americans, who describe their struggles. Some had external causes (journalist Helen Zia recalls a 1982 murder that galvanized Detroit's Asian community), but mostly the struggles were simply to succeed. And family pressure was intense. Slacking off, says medical student Jean Tang, “wasn't an option.”
In Part 2, Chinese-Americans recall their lives (and those of their parents and grandparents) under the Exclusion Act, which was in force from 1882 to 1943. The law kept most Chinese (including wives of many immigrants) out of the U.S., and at first denied citizenship to those already here. But it was constantly fought in court, and immigrants “kept pushing their way in,” says host Bill Moyers. Then came Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan, an enemy of China, attacked Pearl Harbor. It was, says Moyers, “Chinese-Americans' deliverance.”
“Gold Mountain Dreams” (Part 1) begins amid strife and famine in mid-19th-century China. But in California there was gold, which lured some 20,000 adventurers. Many vowed to return to their families as “heroes,” but, as historians and descendants of immigrants detail, few did. One reason, as host Bill Moyers puts it, was “economic and racial hysteria,” leading the U.S. Government to enact the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.