History of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, long recognized as the representative organization of the overseas Chinese in the United States, was established in 1854. At that time, the overseas Chinese had already formed six associations in the state of California. To jointly conduct business dealings with non-Chinese, they formed an organization known as "Six Companies" which was later changed to the Chinese Association in 1862. In 1876, Sue Hing Benevolent Association was established and became the seventh association. The Chinese Association was renamed the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. On January 25, 1901, the Association formally registered with the state of California. The last revision of its By-laws took place in 1930.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of fifty-five directors from the seven associations. Of the fifty-five directors, twenty-seven are from Ning Yung Association, eight from Sue Hing Association, six from Hop Wo Association, five from Kong Chow Association, five from Yeung Wo Association, three from Sam Yup association, and one from Yan Wo Association. The respective presidents from the seven associations form the Board of Presidents, one of whom leads as the Presiding president. The Presiding President serves a two-month term. The president of the Ning Yung association generally serves January and February, May and June, September and October. The other six presidents serve the remaining months through rotation. The foreign affairs are handled by the Executive Secretary known as "churt faan." This position is filled by a representative from the Ning Yung Association every other year; the other six associations serve this position through rotation.
According to the By-laws, the association is charged with the following duties:
- When an overseas Chinese or his business is discriminated against or unfairly treated the Association will intervene on his behalf in accordance with laws of the United States.
- When an overseas Chinese is unreasonably detained by immigration and Naturalization Services while entering or leaving the United States, the association is responsible for aiding him in resolving the situation.
- Settle disputes among the overseas Chinese arising from financial affairs or for any other persons.
- Provide education in the Chinese language for all overseas Chinese children.
- Manage the Chinese Hospital and other charitable organizations.
- Conduct all welfare business related to the overseas Chinese. (Before the Peace Association was established in 1913, the association had been responsible for stopping the Tong Wars, and before the establishment of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce the Association conducted commercial business.)
Due to time constraints and a growing Chinese community, some of these duties are difficult to perform effectively. The Association actively encourages American Chinese to run for public office.