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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Elsie Uyematsu Osajima Interview
Narrator: Elsie Uyematsu Osajima
Interviewers: Brian Niiya (primary); Karen Umemoto (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: November 29, 2018
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-451-15

<Begin Segment 15>

KU: So what did you do once you moved back to Sierra Madre? Did you move back to the nursery property?

EO: Yes. Well, we built a house in the front. And I understand that while it was being built, there was a petition going around the neighborhood, they didn't want any "Japs" in the area. There was a special street in Sierra Madre, Grove Street, that's where most of the Japanese lived, one block full of Japanese. What was I doing up there? [Laughs]

KU: So the petition was specifically for you, for your property.

EO: Because they could see the house going up.

KU: So how did you and your husband respond to that?

EO: We didn't do anything, just moved in. And even before, when I used to live in the little white house, he was new to the area, and he hired a man named Remington Stone to be the bookkeeper up at Sierra Madre. And Remington Stone was a longtime Sierra Madre resident, and he belonged to the... what's that business group?

KU: The chamber of commerce?

EO: It's not the chamber of commerce, there's another name...

KU: Rotary?

EO: I think it's the Rotary Club. He invited him to the luncheon so he can meet the other businesspeople in Sierra Madre. He took him to the luncheon and my husband was snubbed. So there was a lot of racism still going on, yeah.

KU: How was it to raise your children then, in that kind of environment?

EO: Well, like my daughter said, people are nice to you at school, but she was never invited to their homes. So there was a wall.

KU: So both Mary and Amy went to UCLA.

EO: Yes.

KU: In the '60s when all of these protests and civil rights movement was going on at the time, were you in touch with all the activities that they were involved in during that time?

EO: Somewhat. Like the women's movement, I think that was starting to get stronger, and I was very (...) supportive of that movement, yeah.

KU: How did that affect your life?

EO: I never thought about it, but I want to tell you something about what happened at the center. This is in the early '70s, Alan Nishio was appointed director, and he and Morgan and a few people decided we should have a national conference on Asian American Studies, and they announced it at one of the meetings. And then they announced who was going to be on the committee, and I noticed not one woman's name was mentioned. Did I tell you this? Not one woman was mentioned on the committee. So they had their meetings, Morgan was charged with getting certain halls and this and that. And of course, he doesn't do it, he tells me to do it and I do it all. And then (...) they planned on having this booklet with all these research papers. So when people attend the convention, they will pass it out to each (delegate), and they (would) have all this good reading material. And they planned everything, they invited that senator from Hawaii, the woman, Maxine?

KU: Patsy Mink?

EO: I think it was Patsy Mink, yeah, she was the guest of honor. The day of the conference, this is in the afternoon, now, of the conference, about two or three hours before it opens. I was working, and I go downstairs and I see this table, just stacks of things to be passed out, it has not been collated. I don't know who was in charge or what. I see that, so I go down to SCP, and there are guys always lounging around, I got about three guys, and the four of us collated every one so it would be ready to pass out. Now, after the conference, Alan had a post conference meeting, a critique. I should have volunteered and attended; I didn't. You know how Nisei women are? They stay quiet? That was me. But I wanted to point it out, too. This is an opportunity to tell you. But, you know, I think a lot of men, they're not detail oriented while a woman might be. Somebody should have taken responsibility for that, I don't know who.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.