Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bert Nakano Interview
Narrator: Bert Nakano
Interviewer: Larry Hashima
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 13, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-nbert-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

LH: Well, going from, you know, all this sort of these memories of your mother and camp -- it seems like we're gonna skip ahead a lot -- but how did that, was that a really big influence for you to start with the redress movement?

BN: Oh, definitely. Because of my parents. I felt that... getting involved in the issue was a necessity, because I want some kind of a closure on their hardship, what they went through.

LH: And at this time -- I mean, you talked earlier about your son -- and so how did the rest of your family sort of help you also get involved in the redress movement?

BN: Yeah, that's another story. I was what you would call an armchair liberal. I sat down and I read a lot of books and read a lot of magazine, basically left-wing magazines and so forth. And of course my son got lectured on various things concerning the issues and so forth. African Americans, Civil Rights movement and when he got stoned by some black students riding on his bicycle, delivering paper. So I told him, "It's individual person, it's not the race that's bad, but that certain kids are not, not the kind of kids that you want to associate with. So don't group 'em together like you don't want people to group the Asian Americans in one group, same with the African Americans, they don't want to be grouped together, because each individual is different." Things like that I was talking to him about. And of course he, because of what I'd been going through, he became involved. In fact, he's got a, he's got a scholarship to University of Chicago. It's one of the top school and at that time when I was in Chicago studying, that university was called the "pink university" because they were very left, and I thought maybe I'll send him to that school because the politics there are good. But he came back after a year and said, "Dad, that university is so right-wing, I don't even want to go there anymore." I said, "What? You got a scholarship, what do you want to do with that?" He says, "Well, I'm gonna quit, I'm gonna go to Berkeley."

So he went to Berkeley and eventually he got involved in Little Tokyo People's Rights Organization in Los Angeles. And, and he brought home literature about the struggle itself, and he says, "You know, these people are being kicked out again, not from their land but from their apartment, because they couldn't make it. And they want to live in Little Tokyo because they don't have any car, transportation, their working place, the food is there, they can walk to various places. And these people that were taken away back in 1942 from their livelihood, sent to camp, came back to L.A., and couldn't make it because they were too old or couldn't get any job or whatever. And they're living in these apartments, and they're being kicked out and by whom? By the Japanese combine that is coming down, the big Japanese, from Japan company." So I said, "Hey, this is not gonna happen." And he says, "Dad, instead of sittin' down there, why don't you get your butt and do something about it?"

So it was a challenge and I finally got involved. My wife got involved. We were involved in the Little Tokyo People's Rights Organization, we got involved with that. And then in 1978, when the redress struggle was in the JACL convention, they came out with $25,000 individual reparations. LTPRO people organized what we call the Los Angeles Community Coalition for Redress, LACCRR, and that coalition did some work within the community on redress. But at that time, when we had any kind of a, you know, events or meetings, we had maybe, events would be fifty people at the most. But we continued, and LACCRR felt that we should have a larger organization. An organization where we can have a platform for people other than JACL that want to join an organization that is fighting for redress and they want a platform to voice what they think about how the redress movement should go. So that's why NCRR was created for the anti-JACL people or whatever. The no-no people certainly weren't going to join the JACL people. The other people that felt that JACL is not doing the kind of job and they felt, many felt that JACL (had) a lot of the professional people in there and they couldn't relate to these people in their meetings and so forth. So NCRR was created for that.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.