Man offered mutual aid in the Delta Chinese community

Published 6:10 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

[Editor’s Note: This story is one of a series about Chinese immigrants in Mississippi by Memphis Chinese historian and author Emmi Dunn, who was born in Cleveland and grew up in the Delta. For seven years, Dunn has researched and preserved the history and genealogy of Chinese families who made their mark in the Mid-South. Her main area of interest is on Chinese immigrants who spoke Cantonese.]

By Emmi Dunn

Clement Joe described his father as “a champion of the less fortunate.” In the late 1960s and living in the U.S., Mr. Ray Joe helped to establish a welfare department in Hoy Ping, Guangdong Province, to provide medical and food services. 

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Many of the Cantonese immigrants to the Mississippi Delta from 1940s to 1960s received support from Mr. Joe on how to settle in the U.S., specifically in naturalization.

Ray Joe was a champion of the less fortunate in the late 1960s. He assisted many Chinese families in the Mid-South. (Contributed)

Ray Joe believed that education was the key to opportunity. During the segregation period in Mississippi, he helped to open doors of public schools for Chinese youth.  

In 1969 he was also instrumental in having a group of Chinese friends and alumni of Mississippi State University to qualify for membership in the Patrons of Excellence program of the MSU Development Foundation. 

This group became the 189th enrollee of the program after pledging $1,000, an initial contribution, and a pledge of $10,000 for a ten-year period. 

In addition, Mr. Joe generously gave his time and personal resources to various organizations, such as churches, schools, and hospitals in the Mississippi Delta and Mid-South.

After a successful business career, Mr. Joe retired in 1981; he and his wife moved to California to live with their son. In October 1982 Mr. Joe and Quon Shee were visiting friends in Moorhead, when he suffered a heart attack and died later at the local hospital. 

A memorial service was held at Greenwood First Baptist Church; burial followed near Los Angeles. Ray Woo Joe was a role model demonstrating charity, consideration, and philanthropy.

 We recognize the achievements of the Mississippi Delta Chinese community now dispersed, save for a small community mostly around Jackson. As Clement Joe stated, “his accomplishments are part of the history of this community”.

 Sources:, Delta Democrat Times, The Enterprise-Tocsin, The Greenwood Commonwealth