One-Room Schoolhouse

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Photo of the Schoolhouse on display at the MS Delta Chinese Heritage Museum.
Photo of the Schoolhouse on display at the MS Delta Chinese Heritage Museum.

On the walls of the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum in Cleveland, MS, hangs this picture from around 1944.  It is a photo of the schoolhouse that was built in the mid-1930's in Greenville, MS.  At the so-called “Oriental School,” between 30-40 Chinese children were forced to receive their elementary/secondary school education because of the blatant segregation and Jim Crow policies aimed at restricting the civil rights of people of color. I attended that school for my first three grades.  Others spent many more years there before the Greenville School Board permitted us to attend the segregated white schools after the elders in the Chinese community petitioned for this action.  The conditions in which we were receiving our education were definitely sub-standard.  The schoolroom space was probably no more than 500 to 600 square feet.  For the 30-40 children, there was one teacher who taught all grades.  Probably the only positive aspect of this experience was that it bonded the Chinese American community together in a common cause.  Our community in Greenville was about 40 families, the parents of which were immigrants, first generation Americans.  Most of the children were born in the US as second generation Americans. Most of us, especially me, have no nostalgia for those times, as we were made to be lower class “aliens.”  I will always be angry about that.  This should not have happened.

Place(s): Greenville, MS; Cleveland, MS

– Stan, OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant