The Oregon Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), the spokes group for the Chinese community, was formed in the late 19th century to assist Chinese individuals in their struggle with discrimination in employment, business, and citizenship. The organization worked to help Chinese who faced difficulties with U. S. immigration authorities and regulations, to arbitrate disputes among various member associations, and to authorize and manage activities in the interest of the Chinese community and of the community as a whole.
The CCBA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and depends upon donations from the public to maintain its operation and various activities. All contributions to it are tax deductible. All CCBA-sponsored activities, such as the Chinese Language School and benefit dinners, are open to the general public.
The CCBA headquarters is located in Portland historic Chinatown District at 315 N.W. Davis Street. In 1981, grants and donations funded the building renovation. The Great Meeting Hall on the building first floor is used for monthly CCBA Board of Directors meetings, Tai Chi and martial arts classes, and Lion Dance practice. It is also available for public use. Rooms on the second and third floors serve as classrooms of the CCBA-sponsored Chinese Language School, where students of all ages and cultures convene weekly to learn the Mandarin and Cantonese dialects. Classes in English-as-a-Second Language are also available. The CCBA library, also located on the second floor, is an excellent resource with many Chinese and English publications, including history books, literature, periodicals, and newspapers. Historic artifacts depicting the Chinese people contribution to the development of the Pacific Northwest are housed in the CCBA museum on the fourth floor. The museum is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tours of the building are given with advance notice.
The CCBA continues its contribution to the region development as the strongest advocate of improving the Chinatown District. In addition to the CCBA building renovation, Chinese-English street signs were installed, emphasizing the area’s distinct cultural character while serving a practical purpose. Red lampposts line the business blocks between N.W. Third to Fifth Avenues and Burnside to Flanders Streets. These lampposts, installed in 1984 and 1985 decorated with banners depicting the twelve Chinese Zodiac signs, give the entire district a colorful flavor.
The district most distinguishing landmark, the Chinatown Gate, has graced Portland since its opening in November of 1986. Presented as a gesture of goodwill from the Chinese community to the City of Portland, the colorful gate, the largest of its kind in the United States, marks the entrance to Chinatown at the intersection of N.W. Fourth Avenue and West Burnside Street. While enhancing business in the downtown area, the Chinatown Gate further identifies Portland as a major gateway to the Pacific Northwest.
An added attraction in the Old Town/Chinatown area is the newly built Portland Classical Chinese Garden, the Garden of Awakening Orchids. This garden, a must-see sight, is the largest in the United States. Artisans from Suzhou, China built it during a year time in Portland. The official opening to the public was on September 14, 2000.
Throughout the years, the Chinese community has integrated its culture with that of Portland.
In October of 1988, at the signing of the Portland-Kaoshiung Sister City agreement in Taiwan, a colorful, one-hundred-fifty-foot dragon and four forty-foot Dragon Boats were presented to the Chinese community. The magnificent dragon makes regular appearances in various parades around the city. Four Dragon Boats grew to a fleet of ten, one of which is permanently displayed at the Oregon Convention Center. The Dragon Boats rule the Willamette River annually in races that have become a Portland tradition since June 3 and 4, 1989, when the very first Dragon Boat Races in the United States were held as part of Portland’s Rose Festival.
Within its own community, the CCBA sponsors many events and services to maintain and exhibit the cultural pride that its citizens share. Such events include the Chinese New Year dinner/dance celebration, the proceeds of which benefit the association and its college scholarship fund, an annual community picnic, Chinese cultural dance lessons, a Chinese-English newsletter, and an annual dinner that benefits the Chinese Language School.
The CCBA also supports and participates in many significant events and causes outside of the Chinese community, including the Portland Neighbor Folk Festival, the Portland Art Museum, Asian Art Council, and the Doernbecher Children Hospital Guild fundraiser.
In the years years to come, the CCBA will continue to fulfill its mission and strengthen ties within the Chinese community and with the community at large. By promoting education, cultural appreciation, mutual respect, and understanding, the CCBA works toward these communities common goal of improving the society that we share.