Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sue K. Embrey Interview
Narrator: Sue K. Embrey
Interviewer: Glen Kitayama
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 11, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-esue-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

GK: I want to jump ahead to the 1960s and I remembered listening to you on the panel talking about the repeal of Title II movement. Was that your, were you involved in this, and...

SE: Yeah, I... (in) 1950 we moved to Echo Park, after we were married. And we got involved in the local Democratic politics and the mayor's race, and we were, you know, walking precincts and licking stamps and stuff like that. And I was not too much in touch with the Japanese community. There really wasn't anything going on, you know, the community centers hadn't been building up, and there was no JACL, so... I think there were, but they weren't very active. So, I had met Edison in, I can't remember, in one of these...

GK: Edison Uno?

SE: Uno, in one of these meetings and I was very impressed with him. You know, he was always thinking of things, issues that we needed to get involved in. And so I guess we contacted him, regarding trying to get Manzanar listed, you know, but that was not 'til '69. But around that time, I met Dr. Bob Suzuki, who was also active with JACL. He was a teacher, he was a professor at Cal Tech. He's an engineer by trade, I think, by experience. And he was involved in that Title II campaign also, and he got me involved in it. I'm not exactly sure how, unless some of my other friends called and asked me to get involved in it, or went to some meetings, and they said this was a very bad law and we wanted to get it removed. And I got, and I was with a small group of people that were working on it. And I remember that we wrote to Mike Masaoka about it and how we were going start this campaign, and he sent back this letter saying, "Don't do it." You know, "This is not the time to do it, we're gonna lose the section that will give citizenship to our parents, and we're gonna jeopardize the bill. We don't want anybody to do anything about it." But we went ahead and did it anyway, and Edison was really the major leader of the whole group.

GK: Was this the '60s?

SE: Yeah, this was the '60s, and I think prior to that there was a group of, there was a group of us, we formed the Nisei Progressives. This came out of the third party candidacy of Henry Wallace. Henry Wallace was rejected by (Roosevelt) to run for the next election, you know, as a team, and so he decided to form a third party and a friend of mine, who's very progressive person, wanted to start a group to support his candidacy, so we formed a group called Nisei for Wallace. And we were doing precinct work, and all. And he, the leader of the group, gave most of the impetus, because he had distributed petitions to sign us, to get on the ballot in California, and that was done. So he was very instrumental in talking about Title II being such a bad section of the law, we needed to get rid of it. And that the McCarran Walter Act was good because it gave citizenship to our parents, but then it also had this bill that would put people in camps, and he said we can't have that now. After all, we were just out of the camps. And so that's how, I think that was how I got involved. A friend of mine wanted me to get involved with the group. And I had admired Henry Wallace for his agricultural work. You know, he had done hybrid corn growing and done all kinds of experiments with crops in his, I think he's part of the Midwest. And so I thought, "Gee, I wonder, if he does something like that, maybe he'll be good as a president." So I went on, sort of on a personal level, but then I got involved in all these other things. And then when I went to UCLA to look for something, I ran into people like Kenyon Chan, who were active there, and he said they were putting on this pilgrimage in 1969, and would I be interested in going. I said, "When are you going?" And he said December. I said, "Oh, that's a terrible time to go. Gonna be so cold." But then he said, "No, we want people to feel that," you know. Well they did, it was a very cold day, it was the coldest day of the year in Owens Valley. And everybody was complaining that their cameras wouldn't work because it was so cold. And they didn't have warm clothing, and I think Jim Matsuoka and I were the only ones that wore long underwear, and bundled ourselves up.

GK: You and Jim probably being the, two of...

SE: Two older, yeah.

GK: ...the Nisei who were actually in camp. [Laughs]

SE: That's right, and probably I think we were the only few. I think Karl Yoneda came with his wife, but there weren't very many Nisei at that pilgrimage, it was the first one in '69. And I guess after that I sort of got involved. Warren wanted us to form a committee and start thinking about what we can do with Manzanar. So that's, gradually got more and more involved in that.

GK: That was Warren Furutani?

SE: Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah. And let's see, who was organizing? Ron Wakabayashi was one, in the JACL, and then Bob Suzuki, of course, were all part of the group that decided the pilgrimage would be a good idea. That way people would get, you know, at least alert them to what's happening with Title II, and so that was the start. And I don't -- I think Title II didn't get repealed until about '71 or '72, something like that. Because I think you had to go through the Congress, and get a bill passed to repeal that, something like that.

GK: Right.

SE: So... but in the meantime I was still doing work on the local level. You know, I was part of the PTA, and I was part of the local clubs, and we were doing local elections mostly. Mayor's race, City Council race, things like that. Gradually got more and more involved with the Japanese community. As things developed, the clubs began to form, and ended up that way.

GK: Yeah. Did you end up working for, with George Takei's campaign for Mayor? Not Mayor, City Council.

SE: Yeah, I did. I really wanted him to be... yeah, I really wanted him to be elected. I went out and campaigned for him. And he was a really charismatic candidate, you know, he would have been good. But I guess, I don't know what it was that it ended up that he didn't win. Can't remember who was running against him.

GK: Cunningham?

SE: It was Cunningham, I guess, yeah. David Cunningham. But he turned out to be pretty good, but I was really disappointed that George didn't win. Yeah, it was kind of... I guess he's been active in other things.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.