View Full Version : Vietnamese Comm. in OKC

Dave Cook
10-23-2006, 09:34 AM
I was just the Vietnamese community in Oklahoma City one of the largest in the United States?

Reason I ask....I was flying on Vietnam Airlines last week from Ho Chi Minh to Osaka and was flipping through the onflight magazine. There was an interesting ad in there.

It said the airline offers flights to 13 American cities. They were all the bigger cities - LA, San Jose, Chicago, Houston, etc.

But it advertized..."We now have direct code-share flights to Oklahoma City."

Seemed kind of odd to see Oklahoma City being promoted in the Vietnam Airline magazines.

What gives?

10-23-2006, 10:13 AM
We do have one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the U.S.

Apparently, it had to do with a lot of Vietnamese coming through another nearby city (I think it was Kansas City) as refugees after the war. They then migrated to OKC.

I may be getting that wrong though.

10-23-2006, 10:41 AM
That's cool. It was Fort Chaffee in Arkansas through which they came. I believe we're in the top teens or twenties among US cities in Vietnamese population. It may be driven by demand and the fact that OKC is a relatively isolated city, than say, Oakland which has access to SFO.

Doug Loudenback
10-23-2006, 12:46 PM
Coincidentlly, I've just posted a couple of blog posts ... one on "history", one presenting pics of my "drive-about" through the Asian District yesterday. While neither is specifically about the Vietnam immigrants, they do receive the focus, particularly in the "history" post. However, a guy I trade with regularly who operates the 7-Days convenience store at NW 23rd and Walker is an immigrant from Laos, so the influx is not only from Viet Nam.

From my "Asian District ... The Story" post at Doug Dawgz Blog: Asian District Today ... The Story ( :

As to history, I found as good a set of statistics as I could (I was not satisfied with what I found before 2000, as I note in the article), but, as well as I could determine, Asian population in Oklahoma County is pretty much like this (I couldn't find any 1970 stats): 1980 – 5,631; 1990 – 11,356; and 2000 – 18,389. US Census Bureau figures for 2005 put the number at 21,220, that being 3.1% of the county's 684,543 population.
I won't go through the pages in the whole post here, but, a nice National Geographic article, ZipUSA:73106, Lemongrass On The Prairie, is ZipUSA: 73106 @ National Geographic Magazine ( .

A May 6, 1975, Oklahoman front page article by Allan Cromley gives insights into that time:

Congress Resists Refugee Funding – Mail From Oklahoma Heavily Anti-Refugee

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...”

Thus begins the inscription on the Statute of Liberty, but Oklahomans who write their congressmen apparently oppose any “melting pot” hospitality for refugees from South Vietnam.

The mail is running overwhelmingly against admission of the estimated 130,000 persons who fled when Saigon fell to the Communists.

On the other hand, word has been received by Oklahoma lawmakers of offers by various Oklahomans to take Vietnamese families into their homes.
The article goes on, but people like General Clyde Watts and his son, Charles, and furniture dealer Jim Bruno, were people who did an untold number of things to be "sponsors" for hundreds, if not thousands, of these refugees. A nice Oklahoman article appeared in April 28, 1985, about their efforts.

My reasearch in the Oklahoman archives also provided one of the rare instances in which I was proud of the Oklahoman's editorial position. May 4, 1990 editorial:

Enriching Our State

It has been 15 years since 50,000 refugees from Vietnam began arriving at Fort Chaffee, Ark., just across Oklahoma's eastern border.

Faced with deprivation and probable death at home, the refugees sought a new life in the United States. A large number settled permanently in Oklahoma, including a large Vietnamese community in Oklahoma City.

Most had no mastery of the English language and the American lifestyle was bewildering. Few had jobs or prospects for income.

Fifteen years later, few would argue that the Vietnamese have become on the whole productive citizens who have contributed to their new communities.

Their heritage of hard work and sel improvement prepared them to be excellent employees and equipped them to learn the ways of their new world.

To the surprise of many, their children not only adapted to their new school, but became leading scholars. It is rare to see any list of academic achievers in the Oklahoma City area without a disproportionately high number of Vietnamese children represented.

[DL note: The following 1st sentence I could do without – I doubt that "religion" had much if anything to do with the adaptability and other characteristics of the Vietnamese immigrants.] More Christianized than most Asians, the Vietnamese quickly became a vital part of Oklahoma's religious community. Their cultural background has added significantly to their new surroundings.

Oklahoma is a state of immigrants. Many of our Indians were brought here from other areas of the country prior to statehood. Disadvantaged and ambitious settlers flood the state in the land runs of the late 19th century.

Future influxes of immigrants from such diverse places a Syria, Lebanon, Germany, Poland, Greece, Czechoslovakia and other nations added to the diversity of Oklahoma's population and enriched the state.

The Statute of Liberty remains a symbol that the United States has always welcomed the outcasts of the world and provided them with hope and opportunity. N turns most of these waves of immigrants have had positive effects on American society.

Fort Chaffee, Ark., is another of these symbols. Fifteen years ago, the fort was the gateway for the infusion of a dedicated, patriotic and productive people into our midst.

The "history" blog post is here: Doug Dawgz Blog: Asian District Today ... The Story ( and the Asian District pics post is here: Doug Dawgz Blog: Asian District Today ... The Pics (

10-23-2006, 08:31 PM
According to this page...

Vietnamese American Population (

...OKC has the 19th most populous Vietnamese community in the USA.

Doug Loudenback
10-23-2006, 11:21 PM
According to this page...

Vietnamese American Population (

...OKC has the 19th most populous Vietnamese community in the USA.
Luke, those stats don't ring true with what I've seen elsewhere and generally ... only 9,628 Oklahoma City Vietnamese residents in 2000? ... compared with the following (again, trusting sources if not "official" and the stats I've posted, below, are not all from official cencus figures, as said before, and are not restricted to Vietnamese but are Asian generically), is
maybe so, but the link, which relates to 2000 Vietnamese residents, says Okc had only 9,628 residents? Maybe so ... but ... as to "Asians" in Oklahoma COUNTY ...

1980 – 5,631; 1990 – 11,356; and 2000 – 18,389. US Census Bureau figures for 2005 put the number at 21,220, that being 3.1% of the county's 684,543 population.
Somewhere, data has to be wrong. While the data I've found does not diffentiate between groups of "Asians", it would be hard to suppose that the strong influx after 1980 came from anywhere other than Viet Nam. But, I have no original knoledge and am just parroting what I've read on the net.

It would be soooo good to have a single place to obtain data from with which all would agree is at least reasonable accurate. Unfortunately, I don't know of such a place.

Dave Cook
10-24-2006, 02:55 AM
Wow! Thanks for posting those stats. Interesting stuff.

63,000 in Houston. No wonder.

I spent seven weeks in Vietnam and I bet I spoke to at least a dozen people that said they had family in Houston. No place else mentioned...only Houston.

I thought Houston must have one huge ass Viet. population.