Dong Brothers
Lloyd Dong Jr. and his brother Ron stand outside of their childhood home in Coronado. (SDSU)

"Without them, we would not have the education and everything else," said Lloyd Dong Jr, an 81-year-old American Chinese man living in California, US.

Almost 90 years ago, in 1939, the Dong family were denied accommodation from estate agents and landlords due to racially restrictive housing laws that prioritised renting out and selling properties to white people.

After relentless rejections from the local area, the Dong family met Emma and Gus Thompson, a Black entrepreneurial couple who owned a property in Coronado, California.

The Thompsons were the only people who offered the Dongs a place to live and went on to allow the pair to buy their Coronado home.

Decades later, grateful for the couple's hospitable welcome into American society, the Dong family pledged a staggering five million dollars to Black college students.

The Dongs explained that the funds were taken from the proceeds from the sale of the house, noting that they are also working to have San Diego State University's Black Resource Centre named after Emma and Gus Thompson.

86-year-old Janice Dong said: "It may enable some kids to go and flourish in college that might not have been able to otherwise."

Lloyd Dong Jr added that the Thompson house allowed the Dong family to build a life for themselves in California, explaining that the funding will do the same for others.

Ron Dong said of his half of the donation: "It's just exactly what's appropriate."

The proceeds from selling another property, an eight-unit apartment complex next door to the Thompson's 832 C Avenue home, have also been put towards the five-million-dollar donation.

Family members have since estimated the housing proceeds' combined value to be worth eight million dollars.

Both Emma and Gus Thompson were born into slavery and raised in the eastern state of Kentucky.

In 1830, the number of enslaved African Americans made up 24 per cent of Kentucky's population. Since then, according to the United States Census Bureau, the state is still dominated by white families.

Official figures show that, in 2024, a massive 86.9 per cent of Kentucky's population is represented by white Americans.

With ongoing debates regarding reparations and questions of accountability within the US, Coronado Historian Kevin Ashley said that the Dong family's decision to give back to the Black community has served as an example.

While the donation will spark more debates, Ashley noted that the Dong's generosity is not about atonement and repair. Instead, the gesture was a transaction with no strings attached.