The untold story of America’s Southern Chinese.

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The untold story of America’s Southern Chinese.

They live in the Mississippi Delta and speak with southern accents. They’ve been there for generations — more than a hundred years.

They’re also Chinese — and played an important role in the American South in the middle of the 20th century during an age of segregation.

The Southern Chinese arrived in the Delta to work in the cotton fields when slavery was ended. Cotton growers still needed labor to harvest, and the Chinese immigrants were cheap and politically disenfranchised.

But the Chinese who worked cotton fields moved beyond the long hours, low wages and grueling labor, opening small groceries up and down the Delta. These stores often served the black community when white-run grocery stores wouldn’t.

But this was the path to stability. The black population was dominant in the area at the time, and so this tiny population of Chinese served over 70 percent of the people living in the area. They also let the black community buy goods on credit, creating a sense of trust and goodwill for a group struggling to find its footing economically.

They also opened stores catering to white people, a strategy which worked because the Chinese were considered somewhere in the ‘middle’ of the racial spectrum — neither black nor white.

The Chinese also made their mark on the food of the region itself, as well as joining the Southern Baptist Church, which took on the role of educating the Chinese children at the age. Slowly the community gained a foothold in a difficult region, and while small, they became vital to the region.

Watch the video below to hear more of this fascinating community and history — it might expand your idea of what it means to be American…

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