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Chinese Family Honors Black Benefactors

In 1939, Lloyd Dong and his family were having difficulty finding a place to live. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1884 and the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 were part of a series of racially exclusive laws and ordinances designed to prevent Chinese immigrants like the Dongs from being able to successfully settle down. But the Dongs did eventually find a place, thanks to Emma and Gus Thompson, two Black entrepreneurs who first rented and then eventually sold a house in Coronado, California to the family.

That act of kindness helped the Dongs become a part of American society. Now, generations later, the Dongs want to honor the Thompsons by donating $5 million of the proceeds of the sale of that property to a scholarship fund for Black students. Lloyd Dong, Jr. said, “Without them, we would not have the education and everything else.”

Ron and his wife Janice are both retired educators who understand the value of education, which is why they’re also working to have the Black Resource Center at San Diego State University named after the Thompsons. Janice said, “It may enable some kids to go and flourish in college that might not have been able to otherwise.”

The Thompsons initial gesture of hospitality seems even more miraculous when you consider the context. Emma and Gus Thompson originally traveled to Coronado from Kentucky to work at a local hotel, and built their house in 1895, before many of the restrictive racial housing covenants were enacted. The Thompson’s property in Coronado originally featured a residence and a small boarding house on the upper floor of a barn, intentionally created to house vulnerable people with no other place to go.

Jo Von McCalester, a professor at Howard University, said, “It was just something understood that marginalized people in San Diego had to rely very heavily on one another. One family’s sacrifice can shape the lives of so many.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

When we pass on the generosity that we’ve received from others, we model the generous love of God who lavishes on all without regard for status, heritage, or bloodline.

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