The History and Impact of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Arizona: a two-part series

The History and Impact of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Arizona: a two-part series


Multiculturalism in the Borderlands: The Wo Family of Benson
Tuesday, May 11, 4:00 p.m. Arizona time
A presentation by the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center (TCCC) and Dr. Katherine Benton-Cohen, professor of history, Georgetown University

Recently the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center acquired a large collection of documents and artifacts of the Wo family, who ran a mercantile store in Benson for a century. This Chinese-Mexican family’s saga, told through objects, highlights their importance in a Southern Arizona community throughout the 20th Century and even today. TCCC will show two short films it produced about the family based on the artifacts. Dr. Katherine Benton-Cohen will respond to the films, adding context to the experiences of residents the multicultural communities of the southern Arizona borderlands. Benton-Cohen is professor of history at Georgetown University. Her books include Inventing the Immigration Problem: The Dillingham Commission and Its Legacy (Harvard, 2018) and Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (Harvard 2009). About one hour plus Q&A. 


Pershing’s Chinese: Asylum Seekers amid Chinese Exclusion
Tuesday, May 25, 4:00 p.m. Arizona time
A presentation by Dr. Li Yang, faculty associate, Arizona State University

In 1917, General John J. Pershing brought 527 Chinese refugees from Mexico. These men had been involved with the punitive expedition against the Mexican revolutionary leader Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Pershing requested official permission to grant asylum to the Chinese. The majority of the Pershing’s Chinese refugees were sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas to serve the war effort. Released in 1921, a few made their way to Arizona. Lee Wee Kwon (1878-1965) was one of the Arizona-bound Chinese immigrants. He settled in Arizona and played a significant role in the development and growth of Chinese enterprise in Tucson. About one hour plus Q&A. This program will not be recorded.

Photo: Wo family, circa 1902. L to R : Felicitas/Felicia, Soledad (baby), Emeteria (seated), Hi Wo (in back), José/Joe. Wo Family Collection, TCCC.


Teachers of grades k-12:
Professional development hours are available for each talk.
An evaluation of each program is required in order to receive a certificate.
Certificates will be emailed.


This series is made possible through a partnership with the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center and Arizona Humanities.

Event Contacts