Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: May Y. Namba Interview
Narrator: May Y. Namba
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 21, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-nmay-01-0030

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, you mentioned the redress work, and I wanted to, before we get to that point in the redress, wanted to ask you a little bit of what happened before that, because it was in the '70s that there were first some discussion of redress among, at JACL. And I was wondering, were you involved with JACL at all?

MN: No, I had nothing to do with them, and I didn't know hardly what they were doing or anything.

AI: And then it wasn't until -- oh, I think also in the '70s, I think there was that exhibit called the "Pride and Shame" that was put up here in Seattle and toured around the state. Do you recall seeing that?

MN: I saw it, I think, one time at Nippon Kan hall, and that was the only time I saw it.

AI: Because I think, I'm not sure, but I think that was one of the first big public displays about the World War II and camp experience. Was, did your husband go also, or your kids? Do you recall?

MN: I don't remember whether I went alone or who went with me.

AI: Was it strange to see those pictures and the stories of that time coming back?

MN: Not strange, but I thought, "Well, it's about time that it was coming out." 'Cause all this experience, you just put it on the other side of your head.

AI: And then it was 1981 that the redress, the national redress commission was having the hearings around the country, and, of course, they were going to have a hearing here in Seattle. Before that hearing happened, had you been thinking very much about redress or...

MN: No. Until I went to the commission hearing, and I was just fascinated by the whole process.

AI: Tell me about -- I wasn't here then, so tell me about that.

MN: It was at the Seattle Community College and I went by myself, and all these people with their stories. Especially there were a lot of Isseis left yet. And I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I did drag my husband to one of them on his day off.

AI: I heard that some of the --

MN: It was many days.

AI: I think it was three days.

MN: I don't know what it was, but I know I went every day.

AI: It sounded like some of that testimony was very emotional.

MN: It was.

AI: In fact, when I read about some of it, I'm surprised that it sounds like some of the Issei and even some of the Nisei were speaking about the experience in a really personal way.

MN: Well, I can't remember too much about the stories, but it was the first time I've heard other people talk about it.

AI: At that time, did you think that there was a chance that you would actually receive any kind of...

MN: No, no, not... but then all we thought, "Well, if they're gonna ask for money, they should ask for at least fifty thousand dollars." That was my only thinking.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.