Outstanding Chinese-Americans Historical
Leaders of Arizona
鄧悅寧(Wing F. Ong)競選亞利桑那州眾議員 (1940'S)
美國亞利桑納共和報(Arizona Republic) 2007年3月26日報導，美國亞利桑納州的一些亞裔因會聯想起以往西方人對亞裔深感疑慮的年代，而把“東方”(Oriental)視為侮辱性的字眼。但該州法令卻四度出現這個字眼，促使華裔麥德琳‧鄧-阪田(MadelineOng-Sakata)推動以較獲普遍接受的“亞裔”(Asian)取代“東方”。
麥德琳的父親鄧悅寧(Wing F. Ong)1946年成為全美第一位擔任州議員的華人，這位律師兼商人20年後當選州參議員。當時二次大戰剛結束，亞裔普遍遭歧視。鄧悅寧企圖隱藏自己的口音，也從未教導出生於鳳凰城的女兒如何說中文。鄧悅寧1977年去世，但“東方”這個字眼卻留在州法令。
Wing F. Ong (鄧悅寧) -- A Chinese-American Forerunner in Politics
By Homer Zhang
This year marks the 75th anniversary of thefounding of Phoenix Chinese Chamber of Commerce, but fewer people will realizeWing F. Ong (鄧悅寧) was the first Presidentof the organization and an outstanding Chinese-American forerunner inpolitics. Comprisingabout 1% of the total population in the United States, Chinese-Americanshad long been excluded from the mainstream society. Generations ofChinese-Americans had made strenuous efforts to change the situation. Despite the bumpy road ahead of Chinese-American politicians, many forerunners irrevocably proceededone after another until the mid-20th century when Wing F. Ong (鄧悅寧) was elected and became the first Chinese-American seniorpolitician in the United State.
Wing F. Ong (鄧悅寧), also known as Rongxun Deng (鄧榮勳), was born in Yongan Li village, Kaiping County, GuangdongProvince, China, on February 4, 1904. During the Gold Rush in the secondhalf of the 19th century, Wing’s grandparents came toCalifornia where his father, Daolong Deng (鄧道隆) was born. Due to the “Chinese Exclusion Act” passed by theU.S. congress in 1882 to prohibit the entrance of Chinese laborers into U.S.,Daolong Deng (鄧道隆) had to go back to Chinaand married a woman with the surname Huang (黄). Daolong Deng (鄧道隆) returned to U.S. when his son Wing F. Ong (鄧悅寧) was two years old. Under the age of 15 in 1918,Wing boarded a ship bounding for San Francisco in the city ofGuanzhou. He waited on tables on the ship and experienced pitch and rollon the Pacific Ocean for over three weeks. Finally, Wing arrived in SanFrancisco in January 1919 and unexpectedly received humiliating treatment atthe Angel Island Immigration Station. According to the "Chinese ExclusionAct", Chinese immigrants had to go through interrogation when entering theUnited States. The so-called "Angel Island" at that time was asmall island in San Francisco Bay, where the immigrants from China and otherAsian countries received immigration eligibility screening and quarantineexamination. The interrogation procedure ranged from a period of two weeks toover two years, and the supposed immigration station was actually a detentionstation. It was built of wood and fully packed with new immigrants, whowere treated with foul food, but without bathroom and toilet. They also had totake nude examination and be subject to deportation to where they were fromonce infectious diseases were found. The interrogation process was fullof discrimination and stigma and so intolerable that many immigrants committedsuicide in despair. Wing endured a life ofconfinement for three months on the island prior to being allowed to leaveafter his father made attempts. Wing’s life on the Angel Island, tantamount to prisonlife, left an unforgettable imprint in the depth of Wing’s soul, and made himrealize the evil decree of racial discrimination was the root of immigrants’suffering.
Wing thenstarted to work at a grocery store and later at a laundry in SanFrancisco. When he got his residency, Wing wanted to go to the publicschool, but was rejected because of a California special regulation, banningpeople who did not speak English from attending public schools. Wing hadto leave San Francisco and came to Phoenix with his uncle Henry Ong (鄧亨利). He began to work part time and study English in a public school there. Wing cherished the opportunity and completed the eight-year elementarycurriculum in four years; likewise, Wing completed the three-year high schoolcurriculum in two years. During high school, Wing got an unexpectedopportunity that he was introduced by his schoolmate to work as the housekeeperfor Governor Campbell. Wing managed the housework in good order and wasliked by the Governor couple for his cleverness and diligence. Wing learned alot about politics and political debate from Governor Campbell. HisEnglish was also improved quickly. Wing had participated in the studentessay competition held that year in Arizona, and wonthe championship prize. The part-time housekeeper experience helpedWing gain a preliminary understanding of politics, but Wingwanted to get more education.
In the fall of 1925, Wing went toTucson and studied at the University of Arizona. Unfortunately, hehad to drop out due to financial difficulties, and returnedto Phoenix attending the University of Phoenix. In1928,Wing's uncle Henry Ong (鄧亨利) and his fellow partners purchased a grocerystore from the owner in debt and going bankrupt. Wingwas invited to manage the store. Wing took out his $380 saving andinvested as capital, and became one of the grocery storeowners. In the meantime, Wing married to a female Chineseimmigrant named Rose Huang (黃玫瑰). Thereafter, the couple managedthe grocery business with honesty, and the businesswas increasingly prosperous. Wing repaid the debt in just twoyear. Two more years later, Wing's grocery business went fromretail to wholesale and the business was getting moreprosperous. Wing thus became well-known among the localbusiness colleagues.
In 1939, Wing started toparticipate in social activities. He organized and founded thePhoenix Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and was elected the first president forthe organization. In 1940, Wing decided toenter politics. He joined the Democratic Party and run for theArizona House of Representative for the first time. Due to the lack ofexperience, he lost by a margin of 17 votes. Wing wasnot discouraged. He once again went to the College of Law at Universityof Arizona, and completed the law program that would require 7 years for anaverage person to finish. Wing obtained a Bachelor of Law and passed theArizona bar exam. Wing set up the first Chinese-American law firm in Arizona,and became one of the eight Chinese-American lawyers in the United States atthat time. In 1946, 42- year- old Wingdecided to run forthe Arizona House of Representative again. His campaignslogan, “Give the person who knows the law a chance to participate inpolitics,” and his campaign speech, in Spanish in addition to Chinese andEnglish, won him the votes from Americans and Hispanics/Latinos, Chinese andother Asian immigrants. Wing was finally elected and became thefirst Chinese-American State House Representative who was not born in theUnited States.
Elected as the State House Representative, Wingstudied the U.S. immigration law in particular, and analyzed the unreasonablelegislation article by article. Wing made extensive contacts withAmerican lawyers in various practices, and actively urged the revision of theirrational, inhumane and anti- Chinese legislation to reflect the principles offreedom, equality and the rule of law. Wing’s proposal was looked at bythe U.S. State Department ad hoc group, supported by the court, referred to theparliamentary hearings, and finally passed by following the legalprocedures. As Wing F. Ong (鄧悅寧) succeeded in his painstakingpursuit for modifying the immigration bill in 1952, the U.S. Immigration andNaturalization Service finally abolished the border entry interrogation,confinement, and other inhumane practices against Chinese immigrants, andallowed Chinese to apply for immigration with their spouses. Wingthus has been commended as the fighter for urging the United States to modifyimmigration laws. Due to hi significant achievements, Wing had twice beenre-elected as State House Representative. In 1966, he was elected Arizona StateSenate. Wing, active in Arizona politics for 28 years, was embraced andpraised by both the overseas Chinese and Chinese-Americans in Arizona.
On December 19, 1977, Wing F. Ong (鄧悅寧) died at the age of 73 in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1983, ArizonaState University Professor Dr. Nagasawa wrote a book about him in the title of“Summer Wind: the story of an immigrant Chinese politician” with forewords bySenate Barry Goldwater and Governor Bruce Babbitt. In recognitionof Wing’s outstanding accomplishments in Chinese politics and maintainingimmigrant rights, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association awardedthe “Annual Forerunner Grand Award” to Wing, the first Chinese-American whoserved first as State Representative and then State Senate in American history,at its annual meeting in Chicago in October, 2005. History will alwaysremember this outstanding Chinese-American forerunner in politics.