Urban Waterways Research Project: Asian Americans for Change in Biloxi, Mississippi

 

December 7, 2015 - Biloxi, Mississippi - MIickey Sou, a local activist in the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, MIssissippi is active in the organization Asian Americans for Change. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Mickey Sou
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Urban Waterways researcher Katrina Lashley and I continued our gulf coast exploration with local activist, Mickey Sou, of Asian Americans for Change, an advocacy group that was founded in the vacuum created by Hurricane Katrina, where communities found they needed to organize to facilitate more engagement with officials in the chaos of the post-storm recovery. Mickey Sou was born in Montana, the child of Vietnamese immigrants. He was one month old when his parents relocated to Biloxi.

Many Vietnamese emigrated to the gulf coast following the end of the Vietnam war.  Biloxi has a strong Vietnamese community comprised of many of these first and second wave immigrants and their families, who established strong ties in the shrimping community.

 

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou

The warm waters of the gulf coast provided a good living for fishermen dredging the waters for oysters and shrimp. Hurricane Katrina was devastating, but many were able to go back to making their living after the storm clean-up.  The BP oil spill, five years later in 2005 severely compromised the environment and eliminated this livelihood for many.  A website, BridgeTheGulfProject.org, gathers the stories of many Gulf Coast residents and depicts the plight of Vietnamese fishermen four years after BP in the entry here.

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Mickey Sou’s father and sons, Biloxi, Mississippi. Courtesy Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Mickey Sou and his mother, Mississippi. Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Mickey Sou’s father in Vietnam. Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Mickey Sou as a young boy growing up in Gulfport, Mississippi with his brothers. Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi. Courtesy of Mickey Sou

December 7, 2015 - Gulfport, Mississippi - The Industrial Canal Way where the shrimp boats were parked during and before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Biloxi, Mississippi – Mickey Sou shows us the Industrial Canal Way where shrimp boats and other sea vessels battened down during Hurricane Katrina.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 - Gulfport, Mississippi - The Industrial Canal Way where the shrimp boats were parked during and before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Gulfport, Mississippi – The Industrial Canal Way where the shrimp boats were parked during and before Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou

Personal photographs of members of the Vietnamese community in Biloxi, Mississippi courtesy of Mickey Sou Photo credit: Courtesy of Mickey Sou

The Chua Van Duc Buddhist Temple in Biloxi right after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.   Courtesy of Mickey Sou

December 7, 2015 - Biloxi, Mississippi - The Chua Van Duc Buddhist Temple in Biloxi Mississippi. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 – Biloxi, Mississippi – The Chua Van Duc Buddhist Temple in Biloxi Mississippi today.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 - Biloxi, Mississippi - Anacostia Community Museum Researcher Katrina Lashley and local Miceky Sou explore the neighborhood where the Vietnamese Catholic Church on Oak St. in Biloxi Mississippi sits next door to the Buddhist temple. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 – Biloxi, Mississippi – Anacostia Community Museum Researcher Katrina Lashley and local Miceky Sou explore the neighborhood where the Vietnamese Catholic Church on Oak St. in Biloxi Mississippi sits next door to the Buddhist temple.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 - Biloxi, Mississippi - The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor where local shrimpers dock their boats on the Biloxi coast. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Biloxi, Mississippi – The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor where local shrimpers dock their boats on the Biloxi coast.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 - Biloxi, Mississippi - The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor where local shrimpers dock their boats on the Biloxi coast. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Large gulf shrimp being sold wholesale. 
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 - Biloxi, Mississippi - The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor where local shrimpers dock their boats on the Biloxi coast. Here, shrimper Duc Nguyen sells shrimp to customers directly from his boat. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Biloxi Small Craft Harbor where local shrimpers dock their boats on the Biloxi coast. Here, shrimper Duc Nguyen sells shrimp to customers directly from his boat.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

December 7, 2015 - Biloxi, Mississippi - Sea gulls, waterfowl and a pelican rest on a pier at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor where local shrimpers dock their boats on the Biloxi coast. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Biloxi, Mississippi – Sea gulls, waterfowl and a pelican rest on a pier at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor where local shrimpers dock their boats on the Biloxi coast.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The gulf coast today is still in recovery from natural and man-made disasters.  We hope that you will follow along as we continue to process and go deeper into our research and share with you in their own words, the experiences of these gulf coast residents and their communities.