Chinese people in America have faced enormous challenges over the years, including an era of widespread physical and psychological terror known as "The Driving Out," legal discrimination (see "Some Anti-Chinese Laws" on page 26 of Bitter Melon), and persistent stereotyping by the dominant Anglo culture. One of the few places in America where Chinese immigrants and whites peacefully co-existed was the Sacramento Delta. Here among the fertile farmlands and teeming marshes created by Chinese levee-builders, rural towns such as Isleton, Walnut Grove and Courtland flourished.
The town of Locke was created by Chinese pioneers seeking to rebuild their lives after the destruction in 1915 of their community in Walnut Grove by a devastating fire. The town thrived until the early 1950s, when then California Attorney General Edmund G. "Pat" Brown -- father of current Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. -- closed the gambling halls that were the economic lifeblood of small Delta Chinatowns. Since then, successive generations of Chinese, Anglo and Latino residents have struggled to make a living and preserve the town's unique legacy.
During all that time, no one has ever tried to take away Locke's history as "America's Last Rural Chinese Town." And now, thanks to the ruling of Sacramento Superior Court Judge David Brown, that history is intact. Take a moment to read the article. Better yet, treat yourself to a scenic drive along the Sacramento River on Highway 160 and experience Locke for yourself. To me it's the most interesting town in America.
(Image by James Motlow)