HONOLULU (KHON2) — Immigration has always been the foundation of U.S. citizens. Aside from First Nations peoples who survived the onslaught of colonization, every citizen and resident of the U.S. is here through immigration.

Immigrants to U.S. come from every state, country and nation on the planet, creating a unique and global melting pot of races, languages, religions, cultures, histories and traditions.

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Immigrants from Asia have been traversing the Pacific for millennia, operating trade routes prior to European colonization of Turtle Island (North America) and then through commerce once the U.S. was established.

One such immigrant who made his way to the U.S. from Korea was Chol Soo Lee.

Lee immigrated to San Fransisco, California. He was accused of a macabre murder that led to his conviction and a death sentence. He spent ten years on death row for a crime his advocates said he did not commit.

For ten years, a pan-Asian collective of advocates fought for Lee’s release. In the meantime, Lee fought for his life while in San Quentin Prison.

These Korean, Japanese and Chinese Americans never gave up on Lee’s innocence, and their efforts were rewarded when his conviction was overturned in 1983.

“On his journey from an inspiring icon to a swing-shift janitor struggling with drug addiction, Chol Soo Lee personifies the ravages of America’s prison industrial complex,” said Vera Zambonelli, Executive Director for Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking.

Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking is hosting a screening of Free Chol Soo Lee, a documentary that explores his life, conviction, time in prison and the aftermath of his overturned conviction.

It highlights the life of an immigrant that inspired countless Asian Americans in the 1970s and 1980s to take up social activism and social justice.

“The film will explore the complex legacy of this landmark yet largely forgotten Asian American social movement and how Lee and his supporters would intimately shape each other’s lives during his imprisonment and long after his release,” said Julie Ha, Eugene Yi and Su Kim, the filmmakers who created this documentary.

The film screening will be followed by a community driven conversation led by Jamee Miller of Ekolu Mea Nui.

The screening is on April 7 at the Hub Coworking Hawaii located at 1050 Queen Street, 100 in Honolulu.

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Admission is free, but RSVPs are requested. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. and the screening begins at 5:30 p.m.

Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking will be offering light pupu at the event.