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

<Begin Segment 1>

AF: Great. I can go ahead and introduce myself since you've never met me before. I'm Alison Fujimoto and I'm currently a sophomore at the University of Washington. And I'm at home, I'm in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and I'm studying Law, Societies and Justice right now with a potential minor in Diversity. So getting through online classes is sort of difficult, but I'm managing.

AM: Yeah.

AF: And yeah, I enjoy it, being at home with my family, though. I don't mind too much. Yeah, being with my sister and stuff. And...

AM: Does it mean that you want to go to law school?

AF: Potentially, yeah, I'm thinking about it. I was originally a bio major, actually.

AM: Wow.

AF: It was a big switch for me, yeah. It was something I decided pretty much this year that I was more driven to do, I guess, like, work in law and potentially civil rights law. So I really like it right now, so I feel like I'm going down the right path. So I'm pretty confident.

AM: Right. But there's a really good combination between biology and bioethics and the law. That's just a huge field that needs to be defined.

AF: Yeah, my dad was just talking to me about that.

AM: So those interests could come together.

AF: Yeah, yeah, there's so many different cross majors you can do at UW, you can double major, you can even triple major if you wanted to. So I think that's a benefit of going to a big school. They offer such a wide range of majors. And like, kind of like you said, like bioethics and a mix of different, a different two. Yeah. It's pretty cool.

AM: Yeah, I like your Japanese name, Kiyomi. That's one of my favorites.

AF: Oh, really?

AM: Mine's Akemi so we share the "mi." [Laughs]

AF: Oh, okay, okay. That's my mom's middle name.

AM: Oh, really?

AF: That's really funny. Yeah, it is. Yeah, that's so funny. And I guess I can go over the purpose of these interviews. I know Bill mentioned it in his email earlier, but we're basically recording these for the purpose of archiving them in the Seattle JACL archive, so we can reflect back on them. But also, they're going to use some of this information to go to the celebration of the Seattle's 100th anniversary, Seattle JACL's 100th anniversary, so we're putting together these like, multi-screen pop up screens, I guess. And we're going to be throwing a bunch of information together, especially focusing on like the legacy of Seattle JACL, how they impacted the Japanese American community, and then also focusing on like, the leaders of Seattle JACL that stood out. So that's why we're conducting these interviews, and they're gonna be recorded.

AM: I'm so...

AF: And Kyle, do you want to introduce yourself?

KK: Sure. Akemi, glad to meet you. I'm Kyle Kinoshita, currently a JACL board member. Just this last year, been kind of doing committee work since about 2009. I have a family connection with JACL.

AM: Cherry?

KK: Yeah, yeah.

AM: She was your mom?

KK: Yeah, Cherry's my mom. And I was telling Alison that I'm a retired K-12 educator, so it was kind of the thing that I was working on my career constantly and JACL was kind of my mom's church. And so I obviously admired everything that she did, it was kind of like, okay, just stay out of my hair and do your career. But after she passed, I think that I thought it was really important to sort of keep participating, and sort of preserve that legacy. So, yeah, so now I have more time to do that since I retired a year ago. Still doing education consulting and I'm an affiliate faculty team member at the U. So, but get to do projects like this.

AM: Yeah, fun projects.

KK: Yeah. And just to echo what Alison said, I think that especially now that, kind of the demographic of Seattle JACL is changing more and more to other generations, we find that we don't have an enduring record. It's kind of like you have folklore of people, but I think we need to do better than that, given the fact that Seattle JACL has accomplished so much. Yeah.

AM: I think though if you look at the newsletters throughout the years, they were pretty consistent monthly newsletters. And at least that tracks what people did during those times. So we have the factual thing, but we don't have the spirit and the heart. Unless that might have come through in the president's letters once a month. Because they were hard to write and you really wanted to draw to the membership that didn't come to the monthly board meetings. So yeah, but I agree. Our history, it's one of the most difficult things to do when you're running an organization, especially an all-volunteer organization, you just don't have time to document because you're so busy doing the work.

KK: Right.

AM: And I've helped found two other organizations that had exactly that problem. So APACE and ACLF, I worked on those founding boards. So yeah, it is a job, and now JACL's 100 years old. So my god, that's a lot of history.

KK: Yeah.

AF: Definitely.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AF: I can go ahead. Do you want me to start on the questions?

KK: Sure. So Alison is going to steer tonight. And she's ready to do that. And I'm just here to help out or in whatever way. So anyway, glad to hear some of the stories.

AM: Okay. Well, I can talk, so that's not a problem. [Laughs]

AF: Great. [Laughs] And feel free to take your time answering any of these questions. Don't feel like you have to keep talking or anything. Yeah, take your time. I guess to start off, just for like a little background information, could you tell us about your family history? How and or why they came to America, their World War II experiences, and what it was like living in Denver, Colorado.

AM: Okay, so I'm a Sansei. My grandparents came over from Shikoku, and they came because there was just much more opportunity. If you weren't the firstborn child, then you really had no opportunity. So my grandparents came over. My grandma, she was really young, she was only about seventeen, and she was a "picture bride." She came from Iwakuni. And I feel so much empathy for her because she went to Utah. And in Utah, there was a tiny, tiny Japanese community. She was totally isolated out on a farm, sort of all by herself. There was no Japanese food, there's no Japanese community, even though now there is a Buddhist church there. But it was a very small, tiny community, and she didn't have the opportunity to learn English. She had twelve kids, so my mother was the oldest of twelve. She was the oldest daughter. So that was a big giant family. And then my father's side, he had five, they were a little bit more wealthy and they came over for business opportunities. They came to Tacoma. And I guess their parents had a restaurant, his parents had a restaurant, and it was getting pretty successful. The Japanese community was centered in Tacoma at the time. First wave of immigrants. But both of his parents died. So one of my aunties said, "Well, I thought we were going to be rich, but then they both died, so then we all had to go back to Japan." So they did. They were Kibei. So all the kids were sent back to Japan to Shikoku to a small village and then were raised there until after high school, and then they came. So my dad went to Broadway High School in Seattle, even though he finished high school in Japan, and he did that to learn English. So in Japan, he studied accounting, at Broadway High School, he studied accounting, and he was houseboy, probably for the rich people on First Hill. Yeah. So both my parents were interned out of Seattle and they were in Minidoka, and they were the first work released family because they had relatives in Denver. So my grandmother's family, my grandma and all my aunts and uncles, were in Denver after moving from Utah on the farm. She had to raise those twelve kids by herself. Her husband died when the youngest was two.

AF: Wow.

AM: So my grandma used to be a janitor, a commercial janitor, she used to bring all twelve kids, the middle kids would watch the babies, and the older kids would help her clean. So my whole family, we have a joke in my family, we're like clean freaks. [Laughs] We just have this legacy that we have to clean everything all the time.

AF: That's so funny, oh my goodness.

AM: That's to honor my grandma.

AF: Oh, that makes sense. [Laughs]

AM: So during World War II, Denver was the center of Japanese America. And I didn't actually realize that, that was before I was born. But so many of the incarceration camps were right around Denver, it was sort of a crossroads. So slowly, all of my relatives from California and from Seattle got to join my parents in Denver. They were work released. So it was strange that my parents, my dad picked beets because there was a labor shortage, and that's why they pulled the Japanese to Colorado. So he picked beets and my mom had a tiny little grocery store. But she was really popular because she had rations for sugar and rations for meat. So I think they had a good time during the war in Denver. Of course, Minidoka has totally terrible memories for my mother especially. So...

AF: Yeah, thank you.

AM: Yeah so I grew up in Denver after World War II, everybody left when they closed the camps. And what was left was a small Japanese American enclave. And it was probably about two thousand people and we knew everybody, everybody knew each other. And so it was a very tight-knit community. And I actually didn't leave the Japanese community until college, maybe even at the end of my undergrad. I hung around with Japanese Americans totally. There was a Buddhist church, there was a Methodist Church and that was it. So when I came to Seattle was amazing to me, there was a Presbyterian Japanese Church, and there were Catholic Japanese and I just didn't know that. I just thought we were Methodists or Buddhists and that was our only choice. [Laughs]

AF: Got it. That's crazy. Oh, my goodness. [Laughs]

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AF: When, when exactly did you go to Seattle?

AM: I didn't come to Seattle.. gee, it took me twenty years between my undergraduate, finishing my undergraduate and getting to Seattle finally. So I got a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado in Asian Studies, and mostly that was because there were, there was no such thing as Asian American Studies at the time. And I was really looking for that, I was looking for roots and looking for a sense of meaning and purpose. So I studied Asian American Studies, then I went to Thailand with the Peace Corps for two years. Then I went to Berkeley for one year and studied Japanese Studies. I got a scholarship, that's why I was there. I just followed the money. [Laughs] [Inaudible] And I was in Berkeley in 1968 during the Third World Liberation Front and People's Park, and, of course, a lot of anti-Vietnam demonstrations. But it was very chaotic. And I came out of Colorado, this tiny little town, and then I went to Thailand, this tiny village. And then I went to Berkeley, it was sort of like, talk about culture shock, my god. So I chickened out, and I left and I went to Germany, I went to Berlin for four years. And I worked there and I studied there and, again, follow the money. [Laughs] And then I followed the money again and I went to Oregon State University and finally completed a master's degree in education. And then I went to Yakima Valley College and finally from Yakima, I was able to come to Seattle.

AF: Oh wow.

AM: But as a kid, I used to visit Seattle a lot. I have a lot of cousins, my father's side of the family. So every other year, we would come to Seattle for the summer, or in the other years, we'd go to California. So...

AF: Got it. Makes sense. And then can you talk a little bit about what sparked your interest in becoming involved with the Japanese American community, and like, did you have any specific mentors that helped usher you into that work?

AM: So growing up in a small enclave where everybody knew your business, I was so anxious to get away. So when I finished my bachelor's degree, I left the country literally. My parents also had a restaurant that they expected us to work in no matter what. I could have a PhD in physics and they would have expected me to work on the weekends in the restaurant. So I left and part of that was leaving Japanese America. It wasn't that I was rejecting it, it's just that I wanted to find something beyond that and more than that. So that's why I went to Thailand and that's why I went to Berkeley, that's why I went to Berlin. But the Asian American movement was happening when I was in Germany and I felt like I was really missing it. And those were all the things I had sort of been looking for. So I followed it from Germany, I was watching what was happening and American Ethnic Studies being established. So when I came back, one of the first things I really wanted to do was to hook up with the community. And luckily, Tomio Moriguchi is my cousin, we're like second cousins.

AF: Oh okay.

AM: Yeah, he was the national treasurer of JACL at the time. So I went to my first National Convention in Portland in maybe 1973. And he was running for treasurer again and there were all these politics and things like that. And then, after one year in Yakima at the college there, I transferred to Highline Community College. And then he really mentored me, he really wanted me to be on the board, and he introduced me to many people. So he's the one that really got me involved. He was involved in the community, and my dad was very active in the Japanese community in Denver. So I had a lot of role models.

AF: Great, thank you for that.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AF: And then transitioning into your work within APACE, can you tell us about like the main purpose of that organization, and what led you to help form it in 1998?

AM: Okay, so in 1998, there was a citizens initiative to end affirmative action in the state of Washington. That was called Initiative 200. And so we formed APACE, it was called the Asian Pacific American Coalition for Equality at the time, that's what APACE stood for, and it was modeled on ACE, the Asian Coalition for Equality that Phil Hayasaka and that generation had established during the Asian American movement, the early part of that. So the idea was to have a pan Asian organization, instead of specific ethnic organizations. And we felt it was important to have a unified pan Asian voice to represent us as a community of many communities that we are. So we joined a big giant coalition of communities of color, women's groups, LBGTQ groups in fighting that initiative. So it was an amazing coalition. It was a difficult coalition to keep together as all political coalitions are, but it was really exciting. And JACL was an integral part of that. So the Seattle chapter donated five thousand dollars seed money, and they went to National for the national convention and then National donated another five thousand dollars for us. And then nationwide, there were a lot of initiatives. One had just passed in California and ended affirmative action. And so the Asian American groups in California were really instrumental in helping us organize and fight the initiative. We have a lot of good resources and advisors. So the idea was to work in coalition with all of the other impacted communities to preserve affirmative action. And King County, the initiative went down by 78%. However, the whole rest of the state was very conservative, and it passed and it's still in effect. And unfortunately, I thought with Black Lives Matter, it would switch. So in California, they tried to overturn the initiative and it failed, and it failed pretty miserably, this last election in November. So in Washington, we've been, we've been fighting to preserve affirmative action ever since.

So that was the second iteration of APACE, and now we have a third iteration of APACE. So what happened after Initiative 200 is the organization... a coalition is easier to keep together when you have an enemy, when you're fighting something very specific. So after the defeat was not helpful either, it sort of dissipated, took about three years for it to dissipate. But what happened was that group of people really knew each other well. And every election, we would come together, form some sort of organization, we had a lot of different names. Asian Americans for Political Action, ROAR: Raising Our Asian Representation. So every election, we would come together, and we would support some sort of either initiative or candidates or whatever. So we would gear up and then die, gear up and die, because political campaigns are really exhausting. But after doing that for how many years? Ten years, we just really felt we needed an organization that was year round, that was doing the civic engagement work, preparing for campaign work during the election season. So the new APACE, and it's called the Asian Pacific American Coalition for Civic Empowerment, so we always had to use APACE so

we had to see what fit in there. So the last iteration is for Civic Empowerment, it's Asian Pacific Islanders for Civic Engagement.

AF: Got it.

AM: So what we've been doing, we have a c3, c4, and a PAC. And we really reformed in 2005. And again, it this pan Asian organization now that is fully staffed, we have four employees. It used to be an all-volunteer organization just like JACL. So every election, we do a independent expenditure for a particular candidate, API or an API heavy legislative district. We endorse candidates, we get involved with campaigns, we raise money.

AF: Got it.

AM: So that's what we're doing.

AF: Do you see a lot of younger generations getting involved with APACE, would you say?

AM: Yes, it's mostly young people. So I'm one of the old guard. Like I just got off the board in June, so I was the last founding member standing.

AF: Wow.

AM: And I would say the typical age is probably about twenty-four now.

AF: Okay, pretty young.

AM: And it's paid work, not volunteer work.

AF: Oh okay, got it.

AM: Yeah.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AF: And we can transition into your work with JACL. You kind of mentioned how you got involved with JACL, but were there any mentors that specifically guided you towards the direction of a leadership role within JACL?

AM: So I came to Seattle in 1974. And at the time, JACL board was pretty much dominated by Nisei men and it was pretty sexist.

AF: Yeah.

AM: And it was older, right? So even though I was thirty at the time, that was considered really young. And so I felt... so women could do things like, oh, I did the scholarship committee, or I would do... serve the tea, essentially. So that got pretty old. And I had my son in 1981, and I dropped out for about five or six years because I didn't feel like I would ever really have a voice. I didn't want to be a leader, but I wanted to have a voice. And it was a very established organization by the '70s. So I think, I think it was changing, and I think our chapter always was a very progressive chapter when you look at all the JACL chapters across the U.S. So it was changing. We had a first female presidents, so Shigeko Uno and your mom, Kyle, Cherry, I mean, that was very unusual to have women presidents. If you... we used to meet in the building where JACL was established, and we had all the past presidents up on the wall, men, men, men, men, and then a few women until I'd say the last twenty years. Finally, you see a equal number of women.

AF: Yeah.

AM: And I think age was a thing. So and I'm, now that I'm the older generation I see it from the older generation's perspective as well. So there's tradition to preserve, policies and procedures to preserve, and you have to make space for new ideas.

AF: Definitely, yeah. And would you say there are any significant accomplishments or takeaways that you still hold on to today from your leadership within Seattle JACL?

AM: Okay, so we have, with APACE in the fight for, again, I-200, I felt like I couldn't just lead from behind, which is my preferred mode, that I had to really step up. And so I sort of came into my own being the president. And one of the wonderful things about being a president at the time, it was 2000, there was a lot of honor to the role. So I didn't realize I'd be invited to the Japanese Embassy for fancy-shmancy dinners and the New Year celebrations for the various Japanese cultural groups.

AF: Yeah.

AM: So I mean, it really was JACL and the political group that it represented, had a place in the community, and being the president representing that place was really an honor. And I didn't realize that until I actually was president. So, and it totally is a full time job. My god, Kyle, you know that about your mom, more than a full-time job. Yeah, we did a lot of work. So...

AF: And going back to your work on I-200, that you've been talking about, what would you say was like the most significant obstacle you faced when trying to, I guess, object to that initiative?

AM: Racism, systemic racism, that's alive and well, as we speak. And my work at the college, I ended up at Bellevue College for the last twenty-five years of my career, I ended up teaching conversations on race, it was called Courageous Conversations on Race. Doing exactly the kinds of dialogue that people are trying to do today. And I ended up teaching the faculty, the staff, the administrators. And the faculty were the hardest, because it's so ingrained, and they were so privileged, they're invisible to it. So it's everywhere around us, and unless you keep fighting it actively, it keeps toggling back. So you just have to be willing to speak up and willing to dialogue. And it's so hard these days. Now I have to walk my talk and I have to talk to people that I totally disagree with and I have to keep my mind open. And it's really a struggle.

AF: Yeah.

AM: A personal struggle for me to stay open.

AF: One hundred percent. And on that note, like, what's kept you going? Like what's kept you involved with social change, no matter how difficult it is?

AM: I think I'm an optimist. [Laughs] A total optimist and idealistic. So I love democracy, I really do. I love the concept of equity and equality and justice. Those are all things that just fire me up. And I know the definition of happiness is being able to walk your talk. So any way that I can activate and actually do the things I say I believe in, just makes me happy. And then when I'm happy I get more energy. So it's sort of a ball that generates more energy, the more you do.

AF: It's a cycle.

AM: Yeah, yeah. It's a really nice cycle. Yeah.

AF: Kyle, was there anything you wanted to add before I moved on?

KK: Not really, I'm just fascinated. History. But was the Bellevue work, Glenn Singleton kind of modeled after?

AM: Yes, yes. And actually, it was the Seattle Public Schools where I found him. So Seattle Public Schools did a simultaneous training of all the teachers and administrators all in one day. You did it by video way back in the day.

KK: Right.

AM: And I saw part of that, and I said that's what we need to do. Because that's what creates systemic changes, is person-to-person dialogue and understanding.

KK: Okay, yeah. I know that I was, I worked for Seattle Public Schools from 2016 to 2019. So yeah, that was part of the folklore.

AM: Right, right. So we did Courageous Conversations for four years, we had fifteen conversations a week. All... it was students, faculty, staff, administrators. And when you walked in the door, you took off your stripes. So you weren't a teacher, you weren't the president of the college, you were a racial being. And you walked into the room, and you talked and discussed what it was like being who you were. What is it like being a white person? What is it like being an Asian woman? So they were honest conversations, tough conversations. A lot of people lost friends because we just couldn't bridge those gaps. It was really hard.

AF: Understandably.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AF: And were there any other events or people related to Seattle JACL that you think are worth mentioning that we haven't mentioned before?

AM: Yes, I really want to talk about the Nisei women. So JACL is an all-volunteer organization, and it was really built on the backs of Nisei women after World War II. So without that volunteer group that was so dedicated, oh my god, every week, and in those days, we used to lick the stamps and fold the newsletters and mail them out, the postage on it. And yeah, it was a lot of hard work. But those little activities are the things that sustain an organization and build community. So you know, you talk to each other, you get to know each other really well, when you're making sushi to sell at Cherry Blossom Festival, or fighting over the recipes or whatever, whatever activities you're doing. But without the help of all those Nisei woman, the organization would not have sustained itself. And I see that with these pan Asian organizations. And I don't say it's uniquely Japanese, that the women volunteered so often and over such long periods of time, like thirty-five years, every week they would do things. But there's something probably having to do with the incarceration, where you pull together as a community.

AF: Yeah.

AM: And if you said you were going to do something, you did it. So I think those are the real heroes of Seattle JACL.

AF: Got it. Were there any other topics that you wanted to discuss that we missed today, on a more general note?

AM: Just about JACL? Well I'm just so proud that we're the rogue, rogue progressive chapter. And I'm so proud that it was founded in Seattle in the building where we used to have prayer meetings. And that, I think one of the things that's the hallmark of Seattle JACL is that we're very inclusive. So even though the Nisei men were very sexist, they were sexist in the way that they grew up, right? That was their world, and yet they were willing to expand. So first, you started seeing more women's leadership. You started seeing more presidents who were women, and then welcoming gays, welcoming other ethnicities as our presidents. So you go to national JACL meetings, and there would be Vietnamese presidents from Texas of JACL. So that's a big step. If you knew my dad, I mean, he's so ethnocentric Japanese. And welcoming hapa and welcoming all the diversity that exists in, in America. I think our organization is sort of an example of the struggle that it takes to be inclusive. So it takes debates and disagreement and expansion and contraction and whatever. But I think JACL really does that.

AF: Got it. Thank you for that.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AF: Kyle, was there anything you wanted to add before we close up?

KK: I've always been fascinated about kind of the rogue phenomenon. And I know it went back all the way to the start of conversations about redress. But I didn't directly sort of witness it, I would hear bits about it. But I was just sort of wondering about reflecting on that, because apparently, this just went on for decade, in relation to, compared to, say, other chapters or the national? So, anyway, any perspectives on that?

AM: Yeah, I think it's because Seattle is pretty unique. We're a pan Asian community, unlike many other places. So in California, there's enough Vietnamese, there's enough Chinese, there's enough everybody to have your own separate organizations, and to have them be pretty viable and vibrant. But in Seattle, our numbers were, they were big enough, but not quite big enough. And so we're much better working together as a pan Asian organization. And I think that cross fertilization with other Asian groups, just sort of expands your mind. So the Japanese indirect communication and the consensus that everybody wants but no one really agrees to, like what do you want to have for dinner, it takes us three hours to decide where to go to dinner, that kind of thing. So there's something about working beyond your own ethnic enclave that makes you more flexible and makes you more open, and I think the chapter really has that. And the leaders, those Nisei men that were leaders in the '70s when I first went to JACL in Seattle, they were leaders in their professional communities. So Sam Shoji, Min Masuda, those were all people who were very active in the social work community, in the mental health community, in the business community. So I think that's how the economy was expanding and giving people opportunity, and the fact that we were pan Asian. It's a theory. We need a sociologist. [Laughs]

KK: So this might have been a little bit before you got to Seattle, but I'm also wondering about the influence of say the Black African American activism in Seattle, and that obviously was pretty big in the '60s, I'm wondering whether that also might have had sort of an indirect effect on the thinking? That might have not been quite so obvious around '73 or so, but I'm just curious, because that's actually one of my projects is to kind of research that kind of influence. So anyway.

AM: So the Panthers were really active in Seattle. That by the time we hit the '70s, the Asian community, for me was much more organized, and was much more community-based than the Black community. And even now, when we try and build coalitions with communities of color, it's harder to build a coalition including Blacks, because they weren't as organized. But now, with Black Lives Matter, I think there's a real opportunity to do some cross fertilization with grassroots. But that was always really hard for APACE, too. So we could find community leaders who spoke for themselves, but not organizations with a big base of people. So I don't know, Kyle.

KK: Okay.

AM: I used to work for... oh, shoot, I forgot his name. He was a Panther back in the '60s with his brother.

KK: Aaron Dixon.

AM: Yes, Aaron and, and Elmer Dixon. I used to... Elmer Dixon used to be my boss.

KK: Oh, how funny.

AM: Yeah, I did anti-racism training for educational services, so his organization.

KK: Interesting.

AM: Yeah. But again, the Seattle community's small, which is why we know each other. So certainly in the '60s and Asian American movement, the Black movement, the Chicano movement, sure, we talked to each other and certainly, Bob Santos and the Gang of [Four] really had something to do with that as well.

KK: Yeah, great. Okay. And I guess that was kind of what I was thinking. Other interesting thing, I got a, I got a map of the segregation patterns of both, separately of Asians, and then black African Americans. And if you look at it, they were all in the same place.

AM: Yeah, below the Ship Canal.

KK: Right.

AM: In the central area.

KK: So that's why I was wondering, just that the mere fact that they were all together in one place, that they, there must have been some influence because you could see what was going on, and whether that influenced some of the Japanese American people who were active. So anyway...

AM: Well, I think that totally influenced my generation, the Sansei, but I don't know about the Nisei. So all those Third World Liberation movements cross fertilized each other.

KK: Okay. Well, interesting.

AM: Yeah, it is interesting. Yeah. Now, it's ancient history, my god. How did I get so old?

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<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.