Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview I
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 13, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: What a wonderful story. Did you ever go back and talk with him about his thinking?

RT: Oh yes, I went to see him. In fact, right after that I went to Congressman (Mervyn) Dymally's office because it wasn't too far from where they do the voting and everything. And I walked in there and I says to Congressman Dymally, "Can I use your telephone?" And he said, "As long as you don't make long-distance calls." I says, "No," I says, "I'd like to call 'Congressman So-and-So.'" And he says, "Hey, now there, what the hell you gonna call him for? He's our enemy." And I says, "No," I says, "we just picked up the eight votes." He says, "What?" I says, "That's right." I says, "You remember he was supposed to get three minutes to talk against the redress bill?" He says, "Yeah, didn't he?" I says, "No, when he was supposed to go up to the podium and talk about, against the redress bill. And as he went down the aisle -- at the end of the row, there's those buttons -- I guess he pushed the blue one and I saw him walk out the door. And I couldn't understand it, and I looked up there and I saw his name -- behind his name was a 'yes' vote -- a blue one." Then I says, "All the rest of 'em started to light up." So he says, "Well, what can I do?" I says, "I want to use your phone. I want to call him. I want to call him and thank him, personally thank him for it." So Dymally finally -- he was so excited after that, he called him up and handed me the phone. So when the congressman answered the phone, I says, "Sir, I just want to thank you personally from my heart. I don't know what changed your thoughts, but damn," I says, "I'm sure glad that you did." And all he said to me was, "Ha, you son of a bitch, what the hell was I gonna do? I looked up there and I saw you in those goddamned crutches, and I remembered what you said, that I have the same injury that you have." And he says, "I thought to myself, 'that son of a bitch walked way up to the top, there. And it must have hurt like hell while he was goin' up there.' So, as I thought about it," he says, "what the hell could I do but vote for that damn thing." So I say, "Well, sir," I says, "I don't care what you say, but I would like to thank you." And I said, "Now, in the future, may I come down to your office?" And, "I would like to shake your hand, sir." "Well, come on down anytime you want, I'm always here." That's what his answer was. So I was very pleased.

Now, to me, just getting that one guy was worth it. But I lobbied against some of 'em that were real SOBs. I had one guy that we went in to lobby for -- and mind you, he was a California congressman. And we went in and he wouldn't even let us set our butt down on the chair. And the first thing he said to us was, "I don't know what the hell you guys are complaining for. You know, when you guys went to those camps, you had a ball. Everybody got together; you played games and whatnot. You had a ball."

JN: This was a much younger person.

RT: Yeah, he was much younger. And he was from San Diego. And so, I felt like just reaching over and decking him one -- the way he talked. 'Cause how can you have a man that is as stupid as he is? And it shows when they vote for a man like him, and they put him into such a job as a congressman, it shows the weakness of your country. This is the reason why a guy, that jackass they called Roosevelt, got away with all the racistness that he did. 'Cause, you know, he was one of the guys that didn't like the Japanese at all.

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