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Title: Grant Ujifusa Interview II
Narrator: Grant Ujifusa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 2, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ugrant-02-0018

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TI: At this point, I am going to sort of do a segue.

GU: Sure.

TI: And you have sort of this interesting perspective. You grew up in Wyoming, you're, you live on the East Coast. And oftentimes you can look at the West Coast and the cities, and give us a perspective. And because you're in Seattle, and because Arlene Oki from the JACL Seattle Chapter is here, I want to ask you, when you think of Seattle and the JACL chapter, what comes to mind for you?

GU: I think this is a great, I think this is maybe the best Japanese American community. I say that with all this -- I like some others, too. I mean, Nakaso, I like Spokane, I like Salinas, Watsonville, I like Fresno, you know... I'm, I can't quite relate to San Francisco and Los Angeles. A little too tough for me. I'm also a nineteenth-century peasant. You know what they are? They were nice. And that's one of the things that I think is preserved in the Seattle Japanese American community. They're nice. And as I said to you, "Gee, you know, Tom, you're really, you're really nice. I spent a whole lot of my life in New York. What's wrong with you?" They're also very -- what's the right word? -- progressive. JACL was founded in this town. Okay? It was founded on, sort of, "super-Americanism." But that's, that's the option that they took. Well before Mike Masaoka was assimilationist. They also were the pioneers in thinking about redress. You know, I said in 1982, 1981, "Min, don't do this." Well, Henry Miyatake and these other people were saying -- who knows when it was -- I don't even know. 1971? They were saying, "Hey, this, we ought to do something about this." So they were sort of on the cutting edge. They were sort of the visionaries. You have to have vision before anything happens. And so the vision was in some ways provided by Japanese Americans in the Seattle area, and probably Edison Uno, too, who used to follow -- somebody told me, I think it's probably right -- Edison Uno used to follow Earl Warren around. They'd get off the airplanes, and he would taunt him about redress. Or about -- I'm sorry -- about, about what he said. So Edison Uno is now dead for years. He's well, his politics well to the left of mine. Anyway, leadership.

And then, you say, well, it's nice to say we ought to have redress, but then you've got to have, you got to do the footwork and the legwork, and the work in the kitchen to make it happen. And then you had people in Seattle like Cherry Kinoshita and others, who got -- how many congresspeople were here? I think, at that time I think there were eight, seven or eight. They got a hundred percent. California got, you know, something like sixty-five percent. Not even that. New Jersey, where we had some great Japanese Americans, also from the Seattle area, Janet and Tom Komitane, they got thirteen out of fourteen out of New Jersey. So when it came down to actually making this a reality, making the calls and being rejected by these congressmen who'd say, "I don't understand it. A Jap is a Jap. Get out." A lot of that early vision and early leadership on the ground was provided by Seattle. Seattle Japanese Americans. Who, in addition to providing leadership, were also nice. So I say, "What is wrong with you?"

So I have, I love being here. I love being here, and if I were to choose a Japanese American community, I would choose Seattle because it's big, you got a lot of things to do. I'm kind of not so nice, you know, and over time I could become nicer. [Laughs]

TI: Great. Thank you, Grant.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.