Ron Dong was solely 2 years previous when his Chinese language American dad and mom moved to Coronado, Calif., a change that had been doable solely due to a Black couple who defied anti-Asian segregation to lease a home to his household.

Greater than 80 years later, Ron and his youthful brother, Lloyd Dong Jr., 81, are carrying on the legacy of that couple, Gus and Emma Thompson, by donating a part of the proceeds from the sale of the Coronado home and an house advanced subsequent door to assist Black school college students at San Diego State College.

The college mentioned the brothers’ donation, which is anticipated to be $5 million, can be “by far” the most important ever made to its Black Useful resource Middle. The middle will likely be renamed to honor the Thompsons.

Ron Dong, 86, mentioned it was “wonderful” that the cash would give you the chance “to do issues that we didn’t ever anticipate our belongings be capable to do.”

The brothers determined to donate the cash to the college’s Black Useful resource Middle after studying extra in regards to the Thompsons, who rented their home to the Dong household in 1939.

Lloyd Dong Jr., left, and his brother, Ron, stand exterior of their childhood residence in Coronado, Calif.Credit score…San Diego State College

“It was an actual leg up for the Dongs to have that skill to stay there,” mentioned Ron’s spouse, Janice Dong, 86.

Coronado, an island throughout the bay from San Diego that’s recognized for the red-roofed Resort del Coronado, was accessible solely by ferry or a protracted drive up the strip of land that connects it to the mainland close to the border with Mexico till a bridge opened in 1969.

In 1939, Lloyd Dong Sr. and his spouse, Margaret Dong, have been dwelling in San Diego whereas he labored six days per week as a gardener for rich Coronado residents. They’d every been born in the US to Chinese language immigrant dad and mom, Lloyd Dong Jr. mentioned.

The household wished to stay in Coronado to shorten Lloyd Dong Sr.’s commute, however have been confronted by anti-Asian racism.

The Chinese Exclusion Act signed in 1882 blocked Chinese language folks from immigrating to the US, although many nonetheless entered illegally. The act, which was repealed in 1943 and changed with a quota system permitting round 105 visas per yr, and different legal guidelines institutionalized anti-Asian discrimination.

This racism was additionally baked into housing coverage. Within the early 1900s, residence deeds might embody clauses, often called racial restrictive covenants, that barred folks of sure races and non secular teams from shopping for houses or dwelling particularly neighborhoods. This language was outlawed underneath the Honest Housing Act in 1968, however stays on many property documents.

Kevin Ashley, an area novice historian, mentioned the Thompsons had most definitely constructed their home in 1894 or 1895, although property information say it was inbuilt 1901.

“Because the Realtors took maintain within the ’20s and ’30s, the Black group started to fade,” mentioned Mr. Ashley, who has been researching Black historical past in Coronado and sharing his findings online and in a Coronado Historical Association exhibit.

Mr. Ashley contacted the Dongs in 2022 after studying about their connection to the Thompsons, who had been a distinguished couple in enterprise and society. The brothers knew the Thompsons had helped their household, however little else till Mr. Ashley stuffed them in.

Gus Thompson was born into slavery in Cadiz, Ky., someday between 1859 and 1862, according to Mr. Ashley. Years after slavery was abolished, Mr. Thompson moved to Coronado and labored for E.S. Babcock, an industrialist who based the Resort del Coronado.

He constructed a livery steady subsequent to their home with an upstairs boardinghouse for Black individuals who wanted a spot to sleep in Coronado, equivalent to laborers and chauffeurs who had pushed their shoppers to the island. The Thompsons rented their home to the Dongs after shifting to San Diego.

Gus Thompson offered housing to the Dong household and to staff who couldn’t discover locations to remain in Coronado due to segregation.Credit score…Miriam Mathews Assortment

“You had the Thompsons nonetheless holding on to their property amidst this heightened interval of racial restrictions towards African People, Chinese language, Mexicans and others,” Mr. Ashley mentioned.

After the Dongs, who had 4 youngsters, purchased the home from the Thompsons in 1955, they changed the steady with an eight-bedroom house advanced, which can also be on the market. The brothers ultimately moved away to different elements of California, and their two sisters have died, so the household is able to promote.

Lloyd Dong Jr. mentioned the properties have been estimated to be value $7 million to $8 million. He and his brother are donating their parts of the sale proceeds, which he mentioned “would give some deserving folks a leg up.”

San Diego State College mentioned: “The donation is a confirmed $5 million, and can come from the sale of two properties, which are actually within the ultimate phases.”

Janice Dong mentioned that the couple had thought of utilizing their portion of the proceeds to fund scholarships, however discovered that school college students from underrepresented teams often need support beyond monetary help and selected to direct the funds to the Black Useful resource Middle. Ron Dong labored as a highschool math and science instructor earlier than he retired and Janice Dong was a special-education instructor at a center faculty.

Gus and Emma Thompson’s great-grandson, Ballinger Kemp III, 76, mentioned that he was “tickled” by the donation. “It’s a phenomenal factor,” he mentioned.

Mr. Kemp mentioned that his great-grandparents’ determination to assist the Dongs slot in with the household ethos of doing good deeds with out making a fuss.

“Given what I do know of my great-grandparents via my grandmother, I don’t suppose that it was one thing that they thought a complete lot about,” Mr. Kemp mentioned. “It was simply the best factor to do.”

The character of the Dongs’ donation is all of the extra particular for Mr. Kemp as a result of he comes from a household of educators, together with his spouse, mom and plenty of aunts. He mentioned he himself didn’t have the temperament for educating, however for many years he represented academics in non-public follow and as a employees lawyer for a academics’ union. His cherished grandmother and Gus and Emma Thompson’s daughter, Edyth, had additionally put three women via faculty in Los Angeles, he mentioned.

“We might use extra of that — the spirit of the Thompsons and the Dongs — proper now,” he mentioned.

Tonika Inexperienced, San Diego State’s affiliate vice chairman for campus group affairs and a professor, said in a statement that the donation, which was earlier reported by NBC, can be used for mentorship and profession growth applications.

“The Dong household will change lives with this reward,” mentioned Dr. Inexperienced.

Mr. Ashley, the historian, mentioned that the donation was particularly vital amid efforts to cancel diversity and inclusion programs in the US and discussions about reparations.

“Many individuals need us to neglect about powerful historical past, proper? It’s simpler to neglect than it’s to recollect,” Mr. Ashley mentioned. “And the Dongs are saying: ‘We don’t neglect.’”

Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.



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