Mississippi Moments Podcasts: A Delta Chinese Family in the 1940s-60s
Many of us here in Mississippi often take for granted the rich cultural history of our Mississippi Delta. While thoughts of Delta culture often conjure up images of the region’s many blues masters, immigrants have also played a vital role in making the region unique.
One such immigrant group are the “Delta Chinese”–immigrants (and their descendants) who originally came to the Mississippi Delta region to fill cotton planters’ labor demands following the abolition of slavery. These immigrants and their descendants quickly began paving their own paths in the region, as many opened small grocery stores and other businesses in Delta towns to serve the needs of the primarily African-American cotton pickers. While many of these stores have since closed, some remain and have flourished to this day.
Mississippi Public Broadcasting recently aired the story of Dr. John P. Quon, a Chinese-American who grew up in the small Delta town of Moorhead. As Chinese-Americans, the Quons played an integral role in Moorhead while maintaining many traditional Chinese practices at the same time. To get some glimpses of life of one Delta Chinese family in the 1940s-1960s, check out the following links:
Chinese-American, Professor John P Quon grew up living in the back of his family’s store in Moorhead, Mississippi. In this episode, he recalls slipping off and exploring the downtown area at a young age.
Every member of the Quon family was expected to help out in the store. Quon remembers learning how to make change at the age of five.
Eventually, the Quon family decided to buy a home in Moorhead. He explains how an anonymous letter led his father to purchase a cotton farm instead.
1964, Dr. John P. Quon was a student at Ole Miss when he proposed to his college sweetheart, Freida Seu. Both were from Chinese-American families living in the Delta. In this episode, Quon recalls the traditional engagement negotiations that followed.
Quon describes the logistics involved in planning a wedding with an expected attendance of 1,200 family and friends. He walks us through the day’s events including the wedding ceremony and reception, as well as the banquet and traditional tea ceremony.