Ray Ishii Interview

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Seattle Chapter JACL
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Seattle JACL Oral History Collection

In this interview, Ana Tanaka and Joy Misako St. Germain led the conversation with Ray Ishii who served as the Seattle JACL President in 1994. Ray was first involved with JACL in the late 80's and early 90's encouraged by community leader Al Sugiyama and others, including Janice Deguchi and Joy Misako St. Germain, who encouraged Ray to run for the office of Seattle JACL President. Ray reflected on organized efforts at time, such as Initiative 200 to end affirmative action, and opposition against the gay and lesbian community. JACL was beginning to find new paths as a civil rights organization, such as collaborating and supporting the American Jewish Committee and the LGBTQIA community. The JACL membership was the powerful force then as it is today to rally the community on issues that impact everyone. JACL started to move beyond the focus on redress to work with other racial and ethnic communities and took the work to a new level, with younger leaders taking on leadership roles. As he and his family are Seattle natives, he expressed hope and gratitude for the recent work of JACL to support Black Lives Matter and on immigration issues. His work on the Pike Place Market Council and the progress seen in the area of minority and women owned businesses demonstrates how much impact volunteer work can have to make positive change. His parents' experiences. being incarcerated during WWII and his upbringing had a tremendous influence on his not taking for granted the importance of continuing the work of civil rights and social justice. He believes that the success of JACL is due to the ongoing commitment of the membership and leadership.

0:36:39

April 21, 2022

Interviews

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Seattle JACL

Courtesy of Seattle JACL, Densho

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