Asian family donates $5 million to Black students in honor of family who helped them

Asian family donates $5 million to Black students in honor of family who helped them
via ABC 10 News, SDSU Alumni
Bryan Ke
March 8, 2024
A Chinese American family is giving back to the Black community by donating to San Diego State University’s Black Resource Center (BRC) in honor of a family who helped their parents have a home when no one else would in the late 1930s.
Struggle for a home: Racially restrictive covenants, a form of socially enforced contractual agreement, barred Asian, Black, Hispanic and Jewish people from renting or purchasing homes or plots of land. They started in the early 1900s and became rampant across the country between the 1920s and 1950s. At the time, realtors argued that racial diversity in neighborhoods lowered property values.
Help from the Thompsons: Lloyd Dong Sr. and his wife Margaret, who moved to Coronado, California, in 1938, had nowhere to live due to the restrictions. However, a Black couple, Emma and Gus Thompson, stepped up and rented one of their properties, according to the Coronado Times. Born into slavery in Kentucky, Gus settled in Coronado in 1886. He built his properties in 1895, years before the city started practicing the covenants.
Making the purchase: Later on, the Thompsons offered the Dongs the option to purchase their house, seeing it was the only way the family could stay in Coronado amid the practice that favored white buyers and renters. In 1947, they purchased the house and acquired its adjacent livery stable, which they later turned into an eight-unit apartment complex. The combined properties are now estimated by the family to be worth $8 million.
Giving back: Lloyd Dong Jr., 82, and Ron Dong, 87, the last remaining Dong children, announced on Feb. 8 that they will sell their Coronado properties and donate their portion of the sale – $5 million – to the BRC. According to SDSU, the center will be renamed to honor the Thompsons using the Dongs’ donation.
“When you look at all the things that Gus Thompson did, he did a lot of things for a lot of other people, things that they might otherwise could never have done themselves,” Ron Dong said. “We wanted to do something to repay him, to give back.”
Reactions: Monica Montgomery Steppe, a member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, acknowledged the Dongs’ generous donation. She said the family has given her hope that there are still people who “remember who they are, where they came from, and want to do the right thing, and that is no small feat in this world where money is king,” as per the Coronado Times.
Meanwhile, SDSU Associate Vice President for Campus Community Affairs Tonika Green said the Dongs will change lives with their gift. “This is bigger than what we imagined, this helps us think bigger, impact more lives and witness dreams come true right before our eyes,” she said.
 
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