Bruce Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell delivers a speech during the exhibit’s opening October 3, 2015. • Photo by Dominique Etzel

Bruce Lee was, and continues to be, a source of inspiration to society. He once said: “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” Bruce Lee fought to be true to himself and broke barriers by changing how Asian Americans were viewed in the media and pop culture.

Do You Know Bruce? Breaking Barriers is the current exhibit on display at the Wing Luke Museum in the International District through September 4, 2016. This exhibit is part of a three-year, ongoing exhibitwith a new theme each year. On October 3, the exhibit opened to the public with a celebration of martial arts in the streets and a speech given by Bruce Lee’s widow, Linda Lee Cadwell.

Bruce Lee was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people of the century in 1999. Not only did he pack a punch and raise the bar for martial artists, he fought to break stereotypes of Asian-Americans in the media.

This exhibit aims to show this side of Lee to the public.

“He inspired me to be a martial artist. Growing up in Asian culture, being Filipino, he was an idol or a hero, somebody that was in the limelight,” said Sam Timple, one of the first people to arrive to the museum for the exhibit’s opening. “Normally you see Americans doing this and that but he was one of the first Asian cultures to actually become a superstar worldwide that was known in the United States. His quest to be the best and his quest to be a martial artist in his own right sort of inspired me to become my own martial artist.”

At the exhibit, people can expect to see rare memorabilia including the largest display of The Green Hornet toys and collectibles, letters from his early television career, behind the scenes photos from the set of Enter the Dragon, photos from his apartment in the University District in Seattle, where he once lived, and more.

“This year we’re exploring Bruce Lee’s trajectory and TV and film. But we are also exploring Bruce Lee in the context of stereotypes and racism so you’ll really be able to see the long standing barriers that he faced, stereotypes of the evil Asian villain or the dutiful help maid,” said Cassie Chinn, deputy executive director at the Wing Luke Museum. “We get to explore what were those barriers that he faced and how did he show us a new vision of what Asians and Asian-Americans could be.”

Lee not only inspired those in Seattle, but impacted the lives of people across the globe. He broke barriers and stereotypes of Asian-Americans in media and pop culture by fighting for what he believed in.

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