Monday, March 21, 2016
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP -- While the party’s influence was short-lived, its leader, Denis Kearney, who traveled the country in the late 1870s warning that Chinese immigrants were hurting American workers, is credited with helping lay the groundwork for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Jim Crow laws. “Whites in the South would say, ‘See, California is excluding nonwhites; we have to have segregation too,’” said Charles Postel, a History professor at San Francisco State. “It was a nationalistic appeal to defending American labor.” Postel, who authored “The Populist Vision,” hears echoes of Kearney during the climax of Trump’s stump speech. “When he says they’re going to build a wall, and they’re going to make the Mexicans pay for it, it sounds the same to me,” Postel said.