1950s Mississippi might not be the first place you'd expect to find Chinese language ads for
Tricia was researching Chinese-American businesses in the southern United States that sold ice-cold
Below are the firsthand accounts of growing up with
Coca-Cola: A Measure of Success
By Harry Gong
I was born in the Mississippi Delta, proud grandson of a Chinese immigrant family who sought their future and fortune in the Old South, where cotton and plantations were the primary focus of success in the towns and cities that dotted the landscape. Cotton gins were found in virtually every community large or small, and the fact that they were so busy during the seasons of harvest year after year epitomized the agricultural success of the '40s, '50s and '60s.
The Delta was a melting pot of ethnicities, cultures of families with European, Lebanese, Asian and Jewish origins. Each family played an important role in the mechanism by which the economy functioned. In addition to the blacks who provided the muscle in the agronomy, families of Italian origin enlisted in filling managerial duties and undertaking small farming ventures of their own. The Jewish families opened dry goods and department stores and were evident in most towns and communities.
The Chinese families in these Delta communities provided a necessary role in this social template by making available provisions for the black families that provided the labor, strength and energy in these farming success stories. I grew up in one of these mercantile establishments, and like so many of my friends and relatives who shared the same cultural upbringing, we all shared many common “positives” that existed with each and every family.
For instance, education and especially advanced education, was common with each individual of the following generation. It was especially rare that a member of a Chinese family did not receive his or her college diploma. Another common social trait was excellent food, for no friend or relative who drops by for a visit will leave without a fulfilling meal, even if it meant sacrificing a meal of his own.
Also, one societal “positive” I can recall is the importance of serving a bottle of
Visual displays of
Workers would enter the store after hard days of picking or hoeing cotton, and they would stop by the counter and ask for the coldest and most popular refreshment, and usually that would be for a
Relatives in the villages in China often inquire of progress and achievements procured in the New World. Ask any immigrant Chinese family during those early generations, and they will tell you, “We’ve done well and are successful in America...Please have a
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