Mitsuye May Yamada Interview Segment 43

Explanation of English and Japanese names (ddr-densho-1000-137-1) -
Living and working in an American Friends' hostel in Cincinnati after leaving Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho (ddr-densho-1000-137-2) -
Attending the University of Cincinnati, experiencing discrimination while boarding at a sorority house (ddr-densho-1000-137-3) -
Hearing about brother's combat injury; deciding to leave Cincinnati for New York University (ddr-densho-1000-137-4) -
Fond memories of living in a dormitory at the University of Cincinnati, returning to visit years later (ddr-densho-1000-137-5) -
Description of a race-related incident while living in a dormitory at the University of Cincinnati (ddr-densho-1000-137-6) -
Moving to New York City: "a liberating experience" (ddr-densho-1000-137-7) -
Hearing the news of the end of the war; being asked about the concentration camps by a returning soldier (ddr-densho-1000-137-8) -
Reuniting with family in Chicago, Illinois after deciding to attend graduate school at the University of Chicago (ddr-densho-1000-137-9) -
Meeting future husband at an art exhibit (ddr-densho-1000-137-10) -
Influence of incarceration on father, his concern regarding Mitsuye's status as a Japanese alien (ddr-densho-1000-137-11) -
Impact of World War II and father's influence on personal relationships (ddr-densho-1000-137-12) -
Involvement in political movements while a student at New York University (ddr-densho-1000-137-13) -
Memories of the McCarthy period, attending the University of Chicago (ddr-densho-1000-137-14) -
Father is denied a visa to visit Japan, yet later was allowed to become a U.S. citizen (ddr-densho-1000-137-15) -
Discovering father's letters detailing some of the hardships in his life after World War II (ddr-densho-1000-137-16) -
Getting married, living with husband in parents' basement apartment (ddr-densho-1000-137-17) -
Dealing with the stresses of father's passing, studying for master's comprehensive exams, and moving around the country for husband's job (ddr-densho-1000-137-18) -
Having more children and moving to California (ddr-densho-1000-137-19) -
Adjusting to life in Pasadena, California and becoming involved in the controversy over the Fair Housing bill (ddr-densho-1000-137-20) -
Race relations in Pasadena, California (ddr-densho-1000-137-21) -
An "abrupt wakeup call": being diagnosed with terminal emphysema (ddr-densho-1000-137-22) -
Coping with illness: teaching, sculpting, and writing (ddr-densho-1000-137-23) -
Renewed hope after discovering illness was misdiagnosed: "I just decided that I would do something with my life" (ddr-densho-1000-137-24) -
Awakening interest in poetry (ddr-densho-1000-137-25) -
Introduction to poetry and the women's movement: "a wonderful exhilarating experience" (ddr-densho-1000-137-26) -
Reading of poem "Silver Anniversary" (ddr-densho-1000-137-27) -
Relationship with husband; involvement in the women's movement (ddr-densho-1000-137-28) -
Involvement in the Multiethnic Literature of the United States conferences (ddr-densho-1000-137-29) -
Organizing an Asian American writers group, which evolved into MultiCultural Women Writers (ddr-densho-1000-137-30) -
While ill in bed, feeling dissatisfaction with writing and sculpting (ddr-densho-1000-137-31) -
Self-publishing an anthology with a group of Orange County poets; influence of father's senryu poetry (ddr-densho-1000-137-32) -
Publishing Camp Notes and Other Poems (ddr-densho-1000-137-33) -
Teaching college students about the creative writing process (ddr-densho-1000-137-34) -
Working on book Desert Run while attending Yaddo, an artists' retreat (ddr-densho-1000-137-35) -
An eye-opening experience: teaching professional women who had gone back to school (ddr-densho-1000-137-36) -
Filing grievance against boss for discrimination at Cypress College (ddr-densho-1000-137-37) -
Visiting Japan for the first time in fifty years (ddr-densho-1000-137-38) -
Filming Mitsuye and Nellie; emotional reaction to returning to Minidoka camp site (ddr-densho-1000-137-39) -
Description of early redress community organizations (ddr-densho-1000-137-40) -
Thoughts on the early days of the redress movement (ddr-densho-1000-137-41) -
Mixed feelings upon receiving redress check and apology (ddr-densho-1000-137-42) -
Parallels between experiences of Japanese Americans and Arab Americans following September 11, 2001: call for political action (ddr-densho-1000-137-43) -
Talking to children about incarceration experience; the importance of education (ddr-densho-1000-137-44) -
Current activities of children (ddr-densho-1000-137-45) -
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ddr-densho-1000-137-43 (Legacy UID: denshovh-ymitsuye-01-0043)

Parallels between experiences of Japanese Americans and Arab Americans following September 11, 2001: call for political action

Mitsuye Yamada was interviewed together with her two surviving brothers, William Toshio Yasutake and Joseph Yasutake, in group sessions on October 8-9, 2002. She was interviewed individually on October 9-10, 2002.

Before being contacted by Densho, the Yasutake siblings had planned to conduct their own family history interviews. Individually and jointly, they and other family members had written and gathered material documenting their family history. They shared much of this with me to assist with research and preparation for the Densho interview. Mitsuye's daughter Jeni had coordinated much of the family history work. Jeni participated as a secondary interviewer during the group sessions, October 8-9, 2002.

The group interview sessions were conducted in Seattle at the home of Tom Ikeda, executive director of Densho. The oldest Yasutake sibling, Reverend Seiichi Michael Yasutake, had passed away less than a year before the Densho interviewing, in December, 2001. The remaining siblings emphasized that his absence left a gap in their discussion of family history. In addition to Jeni Yamada and videographers Dana Hoshide and John Pai, also present during some portions of the group interview were Tom Ikeda, and Mitsuye Yamada's son Kai Yamada.

00:05:27 — Segment 43 of 45

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October 9 & 10, 2002

Densho Visual History Collection

Densho

Courtesy of Densho

ddr-densho-1000-137

Mitsuye May Yamada

Mitsuye May Yamada Interview

04:29:53 — 45 segments

October 9 & 10, 2002

Seattle, Washington

Female, child of Issei parents. Born July 5, 1923, in Fukuoka, Japan while her mother and two older Nisei brothers visited relatives. Named Mitsuye Mei Yasutake at birth. From age 3, grew up in Seattle, WA. Father employed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service as interpreter for twenty years, until separated from family on December 7, 1941 and interned as an enemy alien. Attended Cleveland High School before being removed from Seattle with mother and three brothers in 1942, and incarcerated at Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington, and Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho. Allowed temporary leave from Minidoka, to travel with brother William Toshio Yasutake to visit their father, Jack Kaichiro Yasutake, incarcerated at U.S. Department of Justice internment camp in Lordsburg, NM.

Released from Minidoka in 1943 to work and attend college in Cincinnati. Received B.A. in English and Art from New York University. M.A. in English Literature and Research from University of Chicago. Married and had four children. Moved to Southern California in 1960. Taught for 23 years at community colleges in Southern California and other institutions, retiring from Cypress College as Professor of English in 1989. Author of Camp Notes and Other Poems, first published in 1976; Desert Run, (1988); writer of numerous other essays, short stories, and poems widely anthologized in collections such as This Bridge Called My Back (1981) and Women Poets of the World (1983). Featured in "Mitsuye and Nellie: Two American Poets," documentary film on Asian women in the United States, aired on national public television, 1981.

Founder of MultiCultural Women Writers (MCWW), member of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), and active in many community, arts and cross-cultural programs. Elected to National Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA in 1987 and served for six years. Recipient of numerous awards and honors recognizing her professional and volunteer contributions to society.

(Mitsuye Yamada was interviewed together with her two surviving brothers, William Toshio Yasutake and Joseph Yasutake, in group sessions on October 8-9, 2002. She was interviewed individually on October 9-10, 2002.

Before being contacted by Densho, the Yasutake siblings had planned to conduct their own family history interviews. Individually and jointly, they and other family members had written and gathered material documenting their family history. They shared much of this with me to assist with research and preparation for the Densho interview. Mitsuye's daughter Jeni had coordinated much of the family history work. Jeni participated as a secondary interviewer during the group sessions, October 8-9, 2002.

The group interview sessions were conducted in Seattle at the home of Tom Ikeda, executive director of Densho. The oldest Yasutake sibling, Reverend Seiichi Michael Yasutake, had passed away less than a year before the Densho interviewing, in December, 2001. The remaining siblings emphasized that his absence left a gap in their discussion of family history. In addition to Jeni Yamada and videographers Dana Hoshide and John Pai, also present during some portions of the group interview were Tom Ikeda, and Mitsuye Yamada's son Kai Yamada.)

Alice Ito, interviewer; Dana Hoshide, videographer

Densho

Courtesy of Densho

API