National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
Tye Leung was born in California in 1887 to a family of Chinese immigrants. At 14, she escaped an arranged marriage in Montana by joining a Presbyterian Mission in San Francisco. There, she learned English and became an interpreter, helping the mission rescue trafficked Chinese women from local brothels.
In 1910 she was hired as a translator at Angel Island Immigration Station; Leung was the first Chinese American to pass the civil service exam and become a government employee. Here, she met Charles Schulze, an immigration inspector, and they fell in love.
Charles Schulze was white. At the time, interracial marriages were illegal in California. They went to Washington state to get legally married, knowing that the intense racism and prejudice from their coworkers would force them to lose their jobs.
To support their family of four children, Tye worked as a night shift telephone operator. Charles was a mechanic and repairman until he died in 1935. She was also the first Chinese woman hired to work at Angel Island. Tye continued to be an interpreter, social worker, and an involved community member in San Francisco’s Chinatown until she died in 1972.
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