New Exhibition on Legendary Martial Artist Bruce Lee Aims to Inspire People of All Backgrounds
INTERNATIONAL: A new exhibition on the world-renowned Martial Arts master Bruce Lee has been drawing in fans and enthusiasts from across the globe while highlighting the wide influence the Kung Fu movie star had on many communities.
The Chinese Historical Society of America's "We Are Bruce Lee" exhibit, which opened in San Francisco's Chinatown on April 24, looks at many aspects of the martial arts star's decorated life.
It particularly explores Lee's popularity across socio-economic classes in the U.S. where he was especially popular in minority communities that were underrepresented elsewhere in popular culture.
Collector Jeff Chinn has loaned around 300 artifacts to the exhibit. Among them are items from the Green Hornet TV show that starred Bruce Lee as the Green Hornet's sidekick Kato, including a document that shows Lee was paid less than actors with minor roles, and even less than the stuntmen.
As a child, Chinn says he was bullied so badly that he developed an ulcer, but a poster featuring Bruce Lee inspired him to fight on just like his hero.
The exhibition features a number of interactive displays to get visitors involved and thinking about how Lee sought to live his life.
"Our exhibition is to see Bruce in those different ways and then show beyond people know him as the stereotypical Kung Fu master. He's beyond that. And also the goal is to connect with the African American community because he was very powerful in how he, how people could relate to him from any different background," said Justin Hoover, executive director of the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum.
Bruce's first student was African American, and he worked with many other students from the African American community, a connection explored in an entire floor of the exhibition called "The Underground."
"We were invited to contribute to the story of Bruce Lee, in particular, share in the love and affinity and respect that the Black community [had for him] and then expanded to communities of color," said Melanie Green, the curator.
Those attending the exhibition are encouraged to share their thoughts on what Bruce Lee meant to them.