Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toru Sakahara - Kiyo Sakahara Interview II
Narrator: Toru Sakahara, Kiyo Sakahara
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 27, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-storu_g-02-0034

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DG: So, finishing out you know, your years in JACL. Tell me your reaction to this comment that I heard, that previous to maybe the '60s, JACL was just a social organization and they didn't do anything real meaningful until the '60s and became more active.

KS: Well I wouldn't say that. We, we took part in... Seattle annually has the Seafair parade and the JACL did a lot of work in building floats, a float to participate in the Seafair parade and we sponsored a queen contest for the girls of Japanese ancestry and...

DG: How did that start?

KS: Well just a group of us thought that would be nice. And one of our, one of the gals, this Agnes Hattori, and she's been long gone, but she was a beautiful seamstress and she made this gorgeous kimono type robe that the Queen could, could wear. And the queen contest was really quite an annual lovely thing. There were at least a dozen gals that would vie for the position and we would have the contest, sometimes in the arboretum if the weather was nice, and other times in different halls. It would be a lot, you know, it was quite an occasion. And the JACL was a, in that sense, a social organization where people could get together and do things.

DG: Do you think this is important that it was?

KS: Well, we felt it was at that time because it gave the young girls something to look forward to and we always tried to raise money so that they would get a scholarship for college and it also meant participating in the whole community too. Because our JACL or our princess took part in the Seafair princesses, and in subsequent years, there has been one of our girls that was named Seafair princess for the whole city of Seattle. So in that sense, it was a, it was political because we took part in the... Seafair's just really a thing to promote the city of Seattle. And aside from that, we had picnics and we had get-togethers where it was just for fun and it was nice because many of the people who had just first came back to Seattle got to see all the rest of the, all the rest of us all were here and they became active in the JACL. It was probably after the '60s when in maybe after the Vietnam War there were more people who were politically active and wanted, wanted more changes in the political climate of the city of Seattle and many of the young Japanese people became active in that. Which was good to see and the evolvement of JACL and being active in that was, it didn't come about over night or anything like that. It was very gradual, I think.

TS: Well, I think Kiyo expresses her recollection, but in addition, JACL could be accused of a social organization, especially in the prewar days, because we had our annual picnics and the dinners and dances sponsored by JACL, but there was nothing really politically crucial that we would have to work on. But especially after the war or we had emergencies that we faced and civil rights issues. We... I think JACL became really active after the war and as a result we had evacuation claims, naturalization rights given, redress for the evacuees. All civil rights legislations that young people in JACL still are active in, and I'm sorry to state that after late '60s I've become very inactive in JACL, but I still maintain my interest in its activities and try to attend its annual dinner meetings.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.