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Frank Wu Oral History

Identifier: QMP-0009

Scope and Contents

In the first session, which took place on April 14, 2020, Frank Wu discussed his parents and early life in the context of Detroit and America in 1960s and 1970s; assimilation of immigrants and instances of racism and discrimination personally and generally; the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 and its role as a galvanizing force in Wu’s life; his work and experiences as a student at Johns Hopkins and eventually as a writer and academic; his decision to become the first Asian American President of Queens College and his love for Queens borough; how COVID-19 has affected his plans and outlook for Queens College.

In the second session, which took place on April 23, 2020, topics included the discrimination faced by people of Asian descent in America during the COVID-19 crisis; the novel coronavirus as a social, economic, political, and health care crisis; conspiracy theories, their origins, and global power dynamics that fuel them; Wu’s thoughts about opening the college, his role as a leader, and how he wants to inspire students and the community.


  • 2020-04-14 - 2020-04-23



This oral history is open for research. Media files and transcript can be viewed and/or requested through the Queens Memory Project on Aviary: For help using the site, contact

Conditions Governing Use

Interview shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Users are free to share or adapt the material for non-commercial purposes, as long as they meet the terms of the license. See license details at

Biographical / Historical

Frank H. Wu was born August 20, 1967 to Chinese immigrants from Taiwan in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins and a J.D. with honors from University of Michigan Law School. At the time of interview, he was recently announced as the 111th President of Queens College and is the first Asian American to hold the position.

Before Queens College, Wu was a law professor and held many faculty and administrative positions at different institutions: he was Chancellor and Dean of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law; a faculty member and first Asian American professor at Howard University School of Law; Dean of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, the youngest law school dean in the country.

He is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White and co-author of Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment. Wu was appointed by the federal Department of Education to its National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), and by the Defense Department to the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. He is deeply committed to education and fighting issues of racial discrimination and injustice.


2 Digital Files ; Duration: 01:32:12.

87.4 MB Megabytes

Language of Materials



This oral history was conducted by Obden Modesir (interviewer) and Frank Wu, incoming Queens College president (interviewee) in April 2020, conducted as a joint project between Queens College Special Collections and Archives and the Queens Memory Project. Among other subjects, in the oral history Frank Wu discusses the COVID-19 crisis, being a Chinese American citizen, and how those two facts will inform his role as the first Asian American to hold the position of QC President.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to Queens College and Queens Public Library by Frank Wu and Obden Mondesir in April, 2020.

Processing Information

Oral history conducted as part of the Queens Memory Project (, a collaborative program of the Queens Public Library and Queens College to collect stories, images, and other evidence of life in the borough of Queens.


Frank Wu Oral History
Caitlin Waldron
May 2020
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us