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Black couple helped a Chinese-American family in crisis. Now, they are paying it back in the best way.

During a time when racial discrimination was dominating the country, this Black couple helped the Chinese-American family build their life.

Black couple helped a Chinese-American family in crisis. Now, they are paying it back in the best way.
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Binyamin Mellish, NBC | Jo Von M. McCalester

It was not easy for people of color or different races to have a comfortable life in the United States decades ago. If not for the help of fellow immigrants, many would have had a questionable future in the country. One such story of people helping each other during dire times of racial discrimination, reports NBC News. When a Chinese-American family was struggling in a California city without a place to live, a Black couple rented and eventually sold their home to the family. Decades later, honoring the kind couple, the Dong family is paying back to the Black community.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alena Darmel
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alena Darmel

The Dongs, who moved to Coronado, California, in 1939, could not rent a house due to the housing laws that restricted people of other races and mainly favored white buyers and renters. Emma and Gus Thompson, a Black couple, came to their rescue by renting the Dongs their Coronado property when no one else offered them help. Over eight decades later, the Dongs are showing their gratitude to the Thompsons by donating $5 million obtained from the sale of the house to Black college students. "It may enable some kids to go and flourish in college that might not have been able to otherwise," said 86-year-old Janice Dong, wife of Ron Dong, whose father, Lloyd Dong Sr., was helped by the Thompsons.

Image Source: The Coronado Black History Project | Kevin Ashley
Image Source: The Coronado Black History Project | Kevin Ashley

Apart from the donation, the Dong family will also make efforts to name the San Diego State University's Black Resource Center after Emma and Gus, who were originally born into slavery in Kentucky. Ron Dong's brother, Llyod Dong Jr., was so grateful for the Thompsons' help, which kick-started their life back then. "Without them, we would not have the education and everything else," Dong Jr. added. In a conversation with Kevin Ashley, a Coronado historian and the mind behind the Coronado Black History Project, Ron Dong said that the upstairs of the livery stable that they rented from the Thompsons served as a boarding house for black laborers and black chauffeurs. During those times, it was the only place where Black workers could find shelter.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

The Dongs were determined to give back to the Black community to set an example amid disputes over the merits and logistics of reparations for chattel slavery in the U.S. Jo Von M. McCalester, a Howard University political science professor who grew up in San Diego, emphasized that though people refuse to accept that slavery and racism did not exist in California, people back then knew their places in the society. So, the Dong and Thompson families who were a part of that history had to support one another. "I think they understand how one family's sacrifice can shape the lives of so many. I think that's where reparations have to come from," McCalester said.

Apart from the goodwill of helping the Chinese-American family, the Thompsons also showcased a rebellious spirit. In a place where chances of renting or buying property were almost zero for immigrants and people of color, the Thompsons tried to smash racism by giving the Dongs a home. Now, decades later, the Dongs giving back to the Black community shows that the impact of those dire times rekindled their spirit of looking out for people of color, in Ashley's view. "They are saying, 'Look at all you guys fighting about reparations. We're giving this all back to the Black community,'" Ashley pointed out.

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