Densho Digital Repository
Seattle JACL Oral History Collection
Title: Sharon Sobie Seymour Interview
Narrator: Sharon Sobie Seymour
Interviewers: Kristen M. Eng, Bill Tashima
Date: December 15, 2020
Densho ID: ddr-sjacl-2-27-4

<Begin Segment 4>

SS: So anyways... I'm trying to think. If I can, I'd like to look at a few notes. Ah, yes, yes, yes, I remember this. There's two things and... well, three, really. Do you remember Bill, McDonald's?

BT: Oh, in the ID?

SS: Tried to come into the ID.

BT: Yeah, I remember that.

SS: And, a lot of people, you know, people from the outside go, "Well, so what? They're everywhere. Why wouldn't you want to get..." And it was a big fight to get, to keep them out. And we wanted to keep... we just wrote down... I mean, I think everyone, so many organizations in the ID fought tooth and nail, and we won. So, I thought that was really important. I thought that was a turning because that gentrifying idea. We were going "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, no. That's not what this is about, we don't want that." And I was pretty proud that we did that. There was also... I don't know, Bill, if you remember this, this is more internal. There was a struggle of changing the name from the International District back to...

BT: Chinatown, yeah.

SS: That was...

BT: That still continues. We probably shouldn't record this part.

SS: Okay. Well, no, I'm just saying that that was the first time I had ever had... I was so thrilled with it being called the International District. But of course, I knew it was Chinatown. So it was a sticky wicket, definitely. And it's always weird when you are kind of having conflict from within your larger community. It's always a little complicated. I thought everyone did pretty well. I mean, there were some things said, but we all have to live together down there. So...

BT: No, I agree. And I was just going to add, though, what was interesting about that is it kind of overlooked the fact first that that was originally Japantown, right? Little Tokyo.

SS: That was brought up.

BT: And then it was also the fact that the majority of -- when they did a population study -- that the big group down there was actually the Filipinos. And that was a start of the peripheral Vietnamese population, being a Little Saigon. And so I think, you know...

SS: Yeah, the Korean grocer...

BT: That was our purpose with "International District."

SS: Yeah.

BT: But I know the issue for trying to retain an identity is a challenge.

SS: I mean, there was definitely pros and cons on both sides, like there usually is, but I think definitely, it was... and I'm not going to say any more, just saying that that was during the year 2000. The next thing I would have to say is the biennium, the convention. And at that time, the convention was only being held every two years. So, we didn't have a convention every year. And so, it was a big year. It was another one of those painful... looking introspective, looking inside our organization, looking inside our community, looking inside ourselves, and having to maybe look at things a little differently than what we've always had or what we feel comfortable with. And so, one of the main issues that the -- we kind of did it in a PAC, it was more the Pacific Northwest. Yeah, PNW.

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