Densho Digital Repository
Seattle JACL Oral History Collection
Title: Akemi Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Akemi Matsumoto
Interviewers: Alison Fujimoto, Dr. Kyle Kinoshita
Date: December 1, 2020
Densho ID: ddr-sjacl-2-26-8

<Begin Segment 8>

AM: Oh, I did want to say a little bit about transitioning from Sansei to Yonsei leadership. Or from Nisei to Sansei leadership, so the intergenerational thing. When I was president, it was starting to be quite intentional. So because, because I had experienced ageism, because I was too young, and I had to be like, forty before I even had a voice. We were quite conscious that we wanted to pass leadership sooner. And so what we did for a while is we had a Sansei president, and then we'd have a Yonsei president. Sansei, Yonsei, Sansei, Yonsei. And when you're president of JACL you're... it's a two-year commitment. So you're coming, up and coming president, you're vice president, then you become the president, then after that, you have another year commitment to mentor and to help the new president. So that's quite a good system. Yeah, so I think, I think we did that quite intentionally. And I think we were one of the first chapters to actually achieve Yonsei leadership on an ongoing basis. And now look at the board. It's mostly young people, right? What's the, what's the average age?

KK: I would say... definitely, it's heavily Yonsei and even a couple of Gosei. I'm... kind of joined saying, "Yeah, sure. I'll join." And then I found I'm one of the, definitely one of the older members of the board, for sure. Stan Shikuma, he's a Sansei about my age, but everyone else. When did that kind of start, about?

AM: Well, I was president in 2000, so I'd say it started a little bit before me.

KK: Oh, okay.

AM: So I'd say '97, somewhere around there. Yeah. So and really ACLF and Kip Tokuda was part of that. Do you know that? ACLF, Alison? The Asian Community Leadership Foundation. So Kip Tokuda was president of JACL, and again, the seed money for the Asian Community Leadership Foundation came out of JACL.

AF: Got it.

AM: So he wanted to build community based leadership, not corporate leadership. So there are all these leadership programs that you could go to, but they were all to prepare you for the corporate world, and that's not what he wanted. He wanted to prepare people for politics and he wanted to prepare people for community-based leadership. So there were... there's tremendous leadership in our community, but no one was trained for it. No one was prepared for it. They fell into it, they built the organizations like Diane Narasaki, it just kept growing. And they learn by doing.

AF: Got it.

AM: So Kip wanted to prepare people for that in a very intentional way. I lost my train of thought. So what does ACLF have to do with...

KK: Oh, we were talking about the intergenerationality.

AM: Oh, right. Right. Yeah. So Kip wanted to pass the leadership skills to the next generation. And ACLF still exists. So I think it was really at its height for about twelve, fifteen years. So we had a new class, every year, you'd go on a retreat... [Phone rings] You'd learn all these skills, and the idea was to keep passing it from generation to generation. So yeah. And that came out of JACL.

AF: Got it. And that still exists today?

AM: Yeah.

AF: Got it, okay.

KK: I'll have to keep a lookout for that.

AF: Yeah. Any other topics?

AM: Yeah. So I think when you're looking at the history of JACL, Seattle JACL, look at all the organizations it's supported and fostered. So yeah, because it has, it has a strong legacy of having done that.

AF: Any other things you wanted to add, Kyle?

KK: No, I think that's it. That last point, I think is actually really important in terms of the accomplishments of JACL. The fact there were so many kind of organizations that the leaders actually formed. So that's, I think, something that we're gonna have to take note of when we talk about major accomplishments. So...

AM: Yeah, so one of the spin-offs is, I mentioned it briefly, ROAR, Raising Our Asian Representation. That was one of those political groups that was really trying to get API's elected to office.

AF: Got it.

KK: Any others that you can think of other than the ones that you mentioned?

AM: Organization? No, I'd have to think about it. My memory's not what it used to be.

AF: No, it's okay.

KK: That's okay. I have that same problem, I remember... you lose decades of stuff.

AF: And if me or Kyle have anymore... Ii me or Kyle have any more questions, we can just follow up with you with an email or something.

AM: Yeah, feel free. I'm more than happy. Obviously, I have a lot of stuff in my head.

AF: Yeah. No worries, we appreciate it.

AM: Not quite formed, yeah, not quite formed, yeah. So it's been fun.

AF: Yeah. Thank you so much for joining us on this. We really appreciate you taking your time to be on this interview. And thank you, Kyle, for listening in and giving your input as well. I'm all out of questions unless there's anything anyone wants to add? Otherwise, I think we're all set and got all the information.

AM: Okay. Thank you, I really appreciate being asked.

AF: I hope you guys have a great night. Yeah, of course. Thank you, guys. Bye.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.