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Title: Mike Murase Interview II
Narrator: Mike Murase
Interviewer: Karen Umemoto
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: January 15, 2023
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-526-6

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And so after the '84 campaign, it was such an emotional and moving experience, particularly as it culminated in the San Francisco Democratic National Convention, and Jesse Jackson gave a speech called, "Our Time Has Come." And it was so moving that people in the Jackson delegation were crying. But that kind of gave many of us the energy to continue trying to build that solidarity among BIPOC and other oppressed people. And I would even say that, again, it's not the chronology, but years later, when Barack Obama ran for President, many of the lessons that were learned in the Jackson campaign, organizing, politics, compromises, everything, whether Barack Obama acknowledges it or not, I think that experience that people had in working on the Jackson campaign, really helped. And the whole concept of Obama bringing together a similar coalition, the only difference was that Obama is not as progressive as Jesse. But still, I would say that being the first, being such a moving speaker, having good, some good platforms, made it really worthwhile to support him. So I would say the contributions of the Jesse Jackson campaign go way beyond just the two campaigns. Even before Obama -- which was many years later -- but immediately after the Jackson campaigns, we had a number of Black, brown, Asian, Native American people, run for local office. And like I'm almost familiar with California, but in the Bay Area, in L.A., I maybe name some recognizable names of politicians whose roots are in the Jackson campaign. So it was a very influential and very inspiring experience for a lot of people.

KU: Can you share some of those names?

MM: Yes. So in L.A., people like Antonio Villaraigosa, who became mayor, Gilbert Cedillo, who became a councilman, Warren Furutani, who held a number of offices. Karen Bass, the current mayor, there's lots of people. Like in the Bay Area, people like Wilma Chan, who was an elected official in state and county level for many years, who unfortunately recently died in an accident. Mabel Teng, the Chinese American who held political office in San Francisco. Steve Phillips, the author of Brown is The New White, and the new book called How We Win the Civil War, very influential books that I recommend to people. He was a student at Stanford, so he was in Students for Jackson, along with a number of other people. So there are people who went in that direction of staying in the political world. I never thought about running for office myself, but I also worked in the political arena for many years after that, both as a community organizer in South Central, and at the same time working as the district director for Congresswoman, Maxine Waters.

KU: Before we go into that, because that's a whole another chapter, I'd love to find out more about... I'm wondering if you could talk about what the lessons were from the '84 campaign that were then applied to the '88 campaign? Because there were a lot of growing pains during that eight-year-plus period.

MM: So because Jesse Jackson had done most of his work in the South, and he is a son of the South, he's from South Carolina, and he had worked with SCLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, that Martin Luther King, Dr. King -- this is Dr. King weekend -- that he led. So Jesse was one of the disciples of Martin Luther King. And so their approach is nonviolence and fighting for civil rights and political rights, and based mostly in the South. And so I think in '84, he used that base in the Black community as the foundation for building his campaign. So it was very much Black-dominated and very much whatever internal strife there was, it seemed to be among Black leaders in that campaign. But the difference in the four years after '88, the concept of Rainbow Coalition that Reverend Jackson was pushing became more real. And so by '88, in California, I would say, many, many Asian Americans, Arab Americans, Latinos, progressive whites, peace activists, labor leaders, many people came around to create a more representative Rainbow Coalition with Jesse Jackson and other Black leaders still at the leadership of it. And I think we saw that as kind of a model, but not only for electoral work in the future, but kind of a model for changing society overall. And if you took elections as one arena of struggle, there was also demonstrations, mass organizing, the day to day work, working in factories, working with students, all those things combined. I think they were all battles within the same one, same struggle. And so all of those things, I think, gave all of us, gave me a lot of hope about what can be done.

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