Augusta, May 17, 2023 – The oldest Chinese civic organization and the first AAPI organization in the state of Georgia is designated to receive a historical marker from the Georgia Historical Society (GHS).
Chinese laborers started arriving in Augusta in 1873 to help build and extend the construction of Augusta's canal system. Chinese families and businesses started growing in Augusta after the end of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Augusta (CCBA) was started in October 25, 1927 as a local chapter of the main organization that originated in San Francisco.
It quickly became a focal point for Chinese families and businesses to gather, network, and share resources.
During the Jim Crow era, Chinese families started successful businesses catering to African American neighborhoods, contributing to the local cultural diversity and social-economic development.
Many Chinese Americans from Augusta served the nation during World War II and were amongst the first to be enrolled in the prestigious Medical College of Georgia.
The historical marker will be presented at a formal dedication ceremony on May 19 at the CCBA building.
“We are honored as the first Chinese organization in Georgia to be presented with a marker by the Georgia Historical Society. It meant a lot for the organization's historical legacy and the local Chinese community in Augusta,” said Gary Tom, President of Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Georgia.
CCBA has submitted a detailed submission process to earn the historical marker from the Georgia Historical Society. The effort was led by Si Long Chen, a board member. She also help write for grant and organized a fundraising campaign to help pay for the project.
“Historical markers are usually designated for places of interest and communities who are under represented in history. It also goes to places that normally does not have historical markers,” said Elyse Butler, Marker Manager, Georgia Historical Society.
The dedication ceremony will be on Friday, May 19, 2023, at 11 a.m. at 548 Walker St, Augusta, GA 30901.
Distinguished guests including Judge Carla Wong McMillian, the first Chinese-American Supreme Court Justice for Georgia and a native of Augusta, Breana James, Marker Manager of GHS, and Dr. Ray Rufo, the first Chinese-American to graduate dental school in Georgia, and Jasmine Sims, Chief of Staff, City of Augusta Mayor’s Office.
Representatives from the local Chinese community, businesses, and organizations will also be in attendance. The ceremony will include traditional Chinese lion dance performances, speeches, and the unveiling of the historical marker.
The designation of CCBA for a historical marker reflects the importance of the Chinese American community in Augusta's history and serves as a reminder of the contributions and sacrifices made by early Chinese immigrants in the state of Georgia.