Chinese in the MS Delta
"Chinese came to America in the late nineteenth century in search of the fabled Gam Sahn or Golden Mountain. When they arrived to the alluvial plains of the Mississippi Delta all they found was back-breaking agricultural work. First introduced to the region as indentured servants by planters during Reconstruction, these early Chinese sojourners (mostly from the Guangdong or Canton province) soon became disenchanted with working the fields. They moved off the plantations. Some left to go back home to China, but others stayed and opened small neighborhood grocery stores. Serving as an alternative to plantation commissaries and catering to a predominately African American clientele, the Chinese American grocer was a mainstay in many Delta neighborhoods well into the 20th century." An oral history recorded by the Southern Foodway Alliance, photos and interviews by Jung Min (Kevin) Kim.
Frieda Quon, who offered an oral history, is from Greenville, MS. My father's parents immigrated from the Canton Region of China to Greenville, MS in search of the Golden Mountain. Some of Frieda's story is the story of my family. The difference between Frieda and my father and 3 of his siblings is that my family decided to leave Mississippi and never to return. I was born and raised in the North, and never did my parents ever take me to the South, and never to MS when I was a kid. I am guessing they did not take me to MS and the South because it was a hard life for my father, and he left MS the 1st day he could, and never planned on returning. If we were going on vacation, we were going to Wyoming, Hawaii, and California, etc and there wasn't time for Greenville, a town that my dad didn't want to see again. The 1st time I was in the South was the day I moved to Nashville. The 1st time I stepped foot into MS was 5 years ago, and I have yet to visit the Delta. It is not that I don't want to visit, it is the opportunity has not yet presented itself. Visiting Greenville is on my list of a "must see". I look forward to finding Frieda, and I think she knows my family. I look forward to finding the corner where my Grandmother's grocery store was, and seeing where my father was born. I look forward to seeing and knowing where my father's family first immigrated to in the USA.