Virtual Choir #5: This is a Beginning

Prompted by Lily and Vincent Chin, inspired by Helen Zia and other organizers. By Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis. Featuring Christine Toy Johnson and Tobias Wong.

Prompted by Lily and Vincent Chin, inspired by Helen Zia and other organizers

By Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis

Featuring Christine Toy Johnson and Tobias Wong

This Is A Beginning is inspired by the work of Lily Chin, who started a movement in response to her son's murder by white Detroit auto workers. Vincent Chin’s murder in June of 1982 was a turning point for the Asian-American community. By refusing to let her son’s death be invisible, Lily Chin sparked a movement that inspired civil rights protests and organizing across the country, the echoes of which can be felt to this day. 

To support racial justice in New Haven, check out Mothers for Justice New Haven at

To support leadership development in Asian communities, check out CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities at 

Activist Songbook honors organizers and organizing through collective music-making. Material emerges from interviews with individual organizers to engage communities. Activist Songbook Virtual Choirs, made up of musicians and non-musicians, record songs from the songbook repertoire and perform together from the safety of their own homes. With a single Zoom rehearsal under their belts, performers use guide tracks to record their parts separately, singing along and improvising.

Featuring: Christine Toy Johnson and Tobias Wong


Aaron Jafferis

Anthony DeQuattro

Brianna Chance

Debbie Elkin

Elaine Kolb

Elisabeth Kennedy

Emma Kennedy

Jaminda Blackmon

Jennifer Heikkila Diaz

Julia Zhao

Kaelin Vasseur

Kao Kue

Kristin Fung

Linda Uyechi

Lisa Patterson 

Magdalena Diaz

Marnielle Charles

Paul Davies

Rheo June Seay Jafferis

Sara Culver

Sylvia King

Music Director/Audio & Video Editor: Stephanie Tubiolo

Produced by Octopus Theatricals in partnership with The International Festival of Arts & Ideas.

Activist Songbook was created as a part of (ex)CHANGE: History Place Presence, a project of Asian Arts Initiative, Original support for (ex)CHANGE: History Place Presence was provided by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia. Additional support from Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Residency Program.

Funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.


Instagram: @activistsongbook

Twitter: @activistsongbk