Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Gladys Koshio Konishi Interview
Narrator: Gladys Koshio Konishi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-kgladys-01-0020

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RP: So later on, you got involved, when you came back to Boulder, you got involved with the JACL?

GK: Yes, I have.

RP: Had you been a member of them, a member of that organization?

GK: I've been a member, I think, you know, we were doing so much volunteer work we decided we'd become members. And so about, maybe about seven or eight years ago, we became members. But never, you know, they asked if we would become board members, and I just never wanted to be a board member. But then I got to thinking, this past year they asked me if I would be the vice-president, program chairman, and I thought, "Okay, it's time for me to give back to the community. And if I can do something because our JACL membership has been going down, I felt like maybe I can use my energies into getting people back. And by that, it was like I needed my family, you start with your family. So there's, that's where I started, my family, my two sisters have joined, and they were planning a big potluck at the end of this month, trying to get new members and bringing back old members and whatever. So Frank and I have really been working on this, getting together things that are donated, we hope to have an auction and make some money so that we can pay for the rental of this building and have some extra money. And then this year, also we wanted to have other, I mean, not just JACL members, but other people, and just maybe get them interested in that. And so this year is the hundredth anniversary of the Lakeside Amusement Park where they have the roller coaster and all that, so I have made arrangements with my sister, she used to be the bookkeeper there. And so we have already spoken and are going to rent the pavilion, and get the community together there with, I figure, friends and relatives and grandchildren. So I feel like we've all been kind of spreading out and not being very active, and we need to get back as a community. And I think I have the energy, so I want to, I want to do that, so I'm working on that.

RP: What racial issues locally has the JACL had to confront?

GK: Well, that's so funny, because we're still, I was talking to Tom about this, and I'm not sure what the goal is. I mean, we're still working for civil, civil rights and racism and all that, but funny enough, I think the younger generations, even my sister who is six years younger than me, she didn't realize that we were still having racial problems because she's never had to confront it. When we were in high school, even back in high school, being six years younger, she was the head girl. I mean, she didn't feel any racial tensions or anything, and she, even now, she gets together with her classmates and everything, she didn't feel that. And so whenever, when I was asking her if she'd join the JACL and the purpose, she said, "I didn't realize we were still doing that, that we were still fighting." So it's interesting, and so I think we have to keep in mind, still, that we're still working for civil rights, but I'm not sure that the younger generation is aware of it as much. And this is why...

RP: You have to remind them.

GK: Yeah.

RP: There was one particular incident that you explained to me that happened on the University of Colorado campus? There was an article, can you share that with us?

GK: Yes, there was a student there in the journalism class, I think, and it was supposed to be a satire, but I don't believe it was. He wrote, it was online, and he, his remark was that, "If the Asians want war, we'll give them war," and that was the headline. He didn't think anything was wrong with that. He said, I think he felt like the Japanese hated the white people, and so I think he still, I believe he was one of the editors, but he still works for that, but he's no longer editor or anything. But yeah, there's always these issues that keep coming up.

RP: Another one, another story you shared with me was an incident that occurred in a market where Frank was shopping?

GK: Oh, Frank? Yes. I had sent Frank, this is maybe two or three years after we came back to Colorado, which would be about 1987 or so. I sent him to the store, grocery store, to pick up a couple items, and he came back and he was telling me this story and I couldn't believe it. He said he was, there was a gentleman with a cart right in the middle of the aisle, and he wanted to get through, so he just moved it over just a little bit so he can get through. And this gentleman got really mad at him and wanted to hit him. And he took his cart and he tried to ram Frank, and so anyway, he said, "Why don't you go back to your own country?" And Frank said, "Well, I don't see you wearing an Indian blanket." [Laughs] And so anyway, I could not believe this mild-mannered Frank would even say that, you know. But yeah, at that time, as liberal as Boulder is, I was, I was really surprised by that. But then I take into consideration also that he might have been in World War II, or somebody in his family might have been killed or something. So of course that's a feeling that you just have and you just kind of forgive and forget and that kind of thing. But yeah, I was really surprised, yeah.

RP: I think it just points out the fact that there's still work to be done.

GK: Yes, there is, yeah. That's why we're always ambassadors, we're always working on that.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.