Lee Wee Kwon, Chinese Grocer in Tucson, 1917-1965
The Chinese had once dominated Tucson’s grocery business. Lee Wee Kwon was among the successful Chinese grocers whose business relied on the patronage of a Hispanic clientele. Lee entered the US as a refugee from Mexican Revolution. Before he came to Tucson, he had lived and worked in northern Mexico and spoke fluent Spanish. His chance encounter with General Pershing won him the much coveted merchant status which enabled him to sponsor the entries of his son and nephew into America to help out with his business. Lee’s success can also be attributed to the mutual aid network afforded to men and women of the same surname in Tucson’ s Chinese community.
Li is the recipient of the C.L. Sonnichson Award for best article in The Journal of Arizona History in 2011. She is an East Asian Studies specialist, historian and writer. Her writings include topics in Chinese history and Chinese-American History, and have appeared in The Journal of Arizona History and major magazines and newspapers in both Taiwan and mainland China. Li received her Ph.D. in East Asian Studies from University of Arizona (2004) and taught at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. She also held a faculty position at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as a researcher and educator. In addition to conducting her own research, Li has translated two books.