AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A local establishment is being recognized as the oldest Chinese organization in Georgia — and it’s right here in the heart of Augusta.
Just four years shy of their centennial celebration, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of Augusta celebrates this honor with a historical marker dedication ceremony.
“We are just thrilled to have this recognition from the Georgia Historical Society,” Danille Moores, a CCBA member.
During the 19th century, the Chinese merchant class in Augusta became the largest Chinese population in the state of Georgia and remained so until the mid-twentieth century.
The CCBA was chartered in 1927 to support the Chinese community in Augusta and remains a home and a pillar of celebration and fellowship.
“I think most people don’t realize that Augusta has such a vibrant Chinese community or how old the Chinese community is,” said Moores.
Justice Carla Wong McMillian grew up as a CCBA member and became the first Asian Pacific American to serve on a state’s highest court in the Southern United States.
“This community started off with Chinese laborers who helped expand the Augusta Canal in 1873- just a few people,” said McMillian, a justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court. “And now it’s grown to hundreds and hundreds of people over many generations.”
“To learn that, back in the early 1900s, they were here as business people and as tradesmen just to make this a better community,” said Mayor Garnett Johnson of Augusta. “I love the idea that we’ve established this marker in this significant place so that they will continue to come back and tell their stories.”
Community leaders say they see this moment as a milestone.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have many Asian-Americans to look up to – the only Asian-Americans that I would see would be on television,” said McMillian. “So, seeing all of the Asian-Americans who are accomplished and are doing great things- not only here in Augusta, but across the state and across the country. I hope that the younger generation will take heart in that.”
The CCBA is celebrating this recognition with an exhibit at the Augusta-Richmond County Library through May 31. For more information on the CCBA, visit https://ccbaaugusta.com/.