Asian Americans in Waco

Texas is a thriving, multicultural state thanks to the perseverance and the presence of Asian Americans.

Given the variety of countries and cultures within the continent of Asia, the term Asian American may be considered more of a cultural definition than a homogeneous, geographical one.

The first Asian immigrants to arrive in Texas in 1870 were Chinese laborers employed to build the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. Additional Chinese workers arrived in 1881 to follow the construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad and stayed once the line was completed. A Chinese exclusion law enacted by Congress the following year prevented any more Chinese from arriving in the states until 1943. Since that time, nearly 1.2 million Asian Americans have settled in Texas and call this state home — the third-largest population hub in the United States. There are sizable communities across the state in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Killeen, and Port Arthur.

The 1950s saw the first influx of Asian American students at Baylor. In 1950, Asian students came from only two countries: China and Japan. By 1955, students from Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, and India joined the student body. By 1959, students came from numerous Asian countries, including the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Burma. In a span of nine years, Asian students became the majority international student population. Baylor’s Asian student body became a diverse representation of Asian ethnic groups across the continent.

The Asian American community within Waco is ever growing and represents nearly 3% of the population. A range of entrepreneurs from varying Asian cultures, including Cambodia, Korea, India, Taiwan, and Vietnam, have chosen to share their culture through business, social and educational opportunities throughout the city.

Visit wacohistory.org for more information regarding the history of Asian Americans in Waco.