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Exhibition traces 7 generations of my family on Gold Mountain

By Raymond Douglas Chong, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Hongcheng Zhao of the Oregon Chinese Coalition in Portland has organized an exhibit, Chong Clan Odyssey on Gold Mountain, at the storefront gallery in the Wong Laundry Building, 219 NW 3rdAvenue in Portland. The exhibition tells the story of 7 generations of Raymond Douglas Chong. That’s me.

Chong Clan Odyssey on Gold Mountain

In 13 photos with captions, I tell the story of my family- a family of sojourners, pioneers, and patriots on Gold Mountain (America) since the California Gold Rush in 1849. Our roots extend to Hoyping (Kaiping) on the Pearl River Delta in Kwangtung (Guangdong).

  • CHEUN SAAN JEUNG (1st Generation Sojourner) – The Gold Miner
    • My great great great grandfather panned for gold during the California Gold Rush.
  • BEIN YIU CHUNG (2nd Generation Sojourner) – The Railroad Worker
    • My great great grandfather labored on the First Transcontinental Railroad, the Iron Road, from California to Utah.
  • HOY LUN CHUNG (3rd Generation Sojourner) – The Vices Merchant
    • My great grandfather was an ingenuous entrepreneur in the vices of gambling and opium at Boston Chinatown.
  • MOI CHUNG (4th Generation Pioneer) – The Chop Suey House Manager
    • My grandfather managed the Imperial Restaurant, a Chop Suey house, on Central Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • GIM SUEY CHONG (5th Generation Pioneer) – The Navy Mechanic
    • My father maintained the world famous China Clipper flying boat and other seaplanes that were stationed on Pan Am Treasure Island Station at the Naval Auxiliary Air Facility on San Francisco Bay, during World War II. During the Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs, he was junior partner of the Kubla Khan Theater Restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown. Gim worked for Lockheed-California Company, as a quality assurance inspector of military aircrafts in Burbank, during the Cold War. He also worked as a waiter during weekends at the Far East Café in Little Tokyo, with its iconic Chop Suey neon sign.
  • RAYMOND DOUGLAS CHONG (6th Generation Patriot) – The Engineer
    • I work as Senior Roadway Manager at Portland metropolitan area with Oregon Department of Transportation. Since 2003, I am writer, poet, lyricist, filmmaker, historian of Chinese American experience
  • KENJI KAIO CHONG (7th Generation Patriot) – The Filmmaker
    • My #1 son is a filmmaker and photographer in Austin, Texas. He serves as a multimedia director for a rising Hollywood pop star, Keshi.
This photo shows the base of the gallery with the First Transcontinental Railroad, built by the Army of Canton. By Raymond Chong, AsAmNews

Gravel, railroad tracks, tunnels, and steam locomotives placed below the photos represent the First Transcontinental Railroad built by the so-called Army of Canton between 1865-1869. The tracks ran from California to Utah.

By Raymond Douglas Chong, AsAmNews

Since the California Gold Rush (1848–1855), Chinese have immigrated to America (Gold Mountain) to seek their American Dream. Our early pioneers mined for gold, built the First Transcontinental Railroad, and farmed the vast lands of the American West. They sadly faced discrimination, hatred, and killings, under the grim shadow of federal Chinese Exclusion Act (1882). From the 1980s, the economic reform in China triggered the recent wave of Chinese immigrants for America. The storefront window gallery presents two family sagas. The first family saga is about seven generations of sojourners, pioneers, and patriots of the family of Raymond Douglas Chong, from 1849 to now. The second family saga is about the new generation of immigrants of the family of Hongcheng Zhao, from 1989 to now. Together, we are representative of today’s Chinese American community.

The exhibition of the family of Hongcheng Zhao, representing a new generation of immigrants over the past 43 years is in production, with anticipated completion this month.

Hongcheng Zhao

Born at Dalian, in China’s Liaoning province, Hongcheng Zhao attended the prestigious Peking University, where he later served as an assistant professor in international economics. He came to America as a visiting scholar at Harvard University in July 1989. In Portland, he worked in the healthcare industry, until his 2017 retirement as Chief Information Officer.

Now, with activist passion and courage, Hongcheng is a splendid director advocating for community services and social justice for the Chinese community. He, unfortunately, sees the Chinese as an invisible minority with little political representation. He has a sense of urgency to take action. Hongcheng envisions, that with dignity and integrity, the Chinese community will achieve respect and trust with White Americans.

With the Oregon Chinese Coalition, Hongcheng is the impassioned savior for Portland Chinatown and the valiant advocate for the Chinese American community in Oregon.

Oregon Chinese Coalition

Since 2017, the Oregon Chinese Coalition, a nonprofit organization, has served the Chinese community. It envisions a connected and united Chinese community that embraces diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, political beliefs, and religious and cultural traditions.

Its main goal is to revitalize Portland Chinatown. In 1900, Portland had the second-largest Chinese population next to San Francisco. It included prominent landmarks with an everlasting legacy. Now, the neighborhood is a decaying neighborhood, wreaked with empty storefronts, homelessness, filth, drugs, and shootings.

Their planned activities for revitalizing Chinatown include:

  • Celebrating Spring and Autumn Festivals with street performances.
  • Hanging red lanterns on street light poles.
  • Sweeping the streets.
  • Restoring the Wong Laundry Building, built in 1908, one of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places.
  • Displaying Community Youth Art Contest entries in the storefront galley of the Wong Laundry Building.

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