Journal of Educational Controversy


Monday, April 8, 2024

Editorial Board Member Paul Englesberg Receives Award for Best Article of the Year on the Bellingham Riot of 1907


Editorial Board Member Paul Englesberg Receives Award for Best Article of the Year on the Bellingham Riot of 1907


The Journal of Educational Controversy would like to announce that our editorial board member, Paul Englesberg, will be receiving the John McClelland, Jr. Award from the Washington State Historical Society on May 4th.  The award was made in recognition of his article, "The Bellingham Riot of 1907," selected as the best article of the year published in Columbia, The Magazine of Northwest History, Winter, 2023, pp. 26-33.  I have heard Paul speak about this event on a number of occasions.  His work is very significant, especially at this historical moment of public debate and controversy on what history should be taught in our public schools, the topic we explore in our upcoming issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy.

Here is an abstract of the article:

The rapid development of racial prejudice and labor animosity directed at new Asian immigrants in Bellingham led to one of the largest anti-immigrant riots in early 20th century United States. Several thousand men from Punjab, India, most of whom were Sikhs, immigrated to British Columbia, Canada and the United States Northwest in 1905 to 1908 seeking work, and many found jobs as laborers, mostly in the many lumber mills.  With its large mills and proximity to the Canadian border, Bellingham, Washington attracted hundreds of these Punjabi immigrants, which quickly led to racial and labor tensions.  On September 4, 1907 a large mob gathered and attacked the Punjabis, seeking to drive them out of the mills and the city.  Hundreds fled and others were held overnight in the city jail for protection.  In a matter of days almost all the immigrants had left, never to return to the Bellingham area.

Decades later a thriving Sikh community began to form in Bellingham and Whatcom County, and public educational programs recognized the ugly history of racism and forced expulsions of immigrants from China, India, and Japan.  In recognition of this legacy of intolerance, an impressive monument, the Arch of Healing and Reconciliation, was erected in the city center and dedicated in 2018.  In 2020 voters elected Satpal Sidhu, a Sikh leader, to the highest elected position of County Executive. ("The Bellingham Riot of 1907" in Columbia, Winter, 2023, pp. 26-33.)

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