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-2-27-6

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SS: Yeah, and I think we, Bill and I, talked about this in the last interview we did with Tomio. I feel like that issue, that was so deep down, was important to talk about. Personally, I identify as a Yonsei and a Gosei. Gosei on my grandma's side but Yonsei on my grandpa's side. I guess these issues weren't really talked about with me until my mom brought it up and talked about kind of the pain, too, of someone that was at Tule Lake. I mean, my grandpa was at Tule Lake for a little bit. And I had... I guess my grandpa's cousin was a "no-no boy." And just the way he was looked at and stuff like that, he had to leave the United States because of all the hate he received. And people, she talked about people that used to go to our church, still go to our church, if their son was a "no-no boy," or they were at Tule Lake, they were kind of shunned. So, yeah.

SS: There was suicides, there were a lot of things that... it was, again, it was just a painful subject, but maybe I'm the person that can pull off the bandage, I don't know. I don't know, I don't like it, but somehow, I'm always that person, or put in that, during that timeframe. And it was a very... I mean, I think every little poll we did, we knew that it's only going to get more and more. But once you start, you kind of might as well just do it and start the conversation. That doesn't mean, just because you pull off the bandage, it doesn't mean that even if you start the conversation, it doesn't mean that it's going to go boom, everyone's running around and holding hands and all that. Not at all. I mean, it still takes many, many years, some may never heal from that. My mom was also at Tule.

And so it's, it's just interesting... it's just interesting to hear things. I mean, but it's part of our history now, and we have to know. We have to know the good and the bad. We have to know it. Even whether you agree, whether you take side, whatever side you're on, or if you don't want to take sides, it's still important to know all that went on. And we just have to. We always say "never again," but how can "never again" if we don't even know all that went on? So, we don't know "never again," unless we know kind of as much of our own history as possible. And it is hard. One of the things to kind of step back for a second at the convention -- and that we talked to a lot of the organizations about, is that it's really hard. We have to look at the future. We have to look at now and the future. And calling ourselves a civil rights organization, how can we say that and move forward and have any impact if in the past we made some decisions, maybe that wasn't, that didn't align with that? Now, granted back in the '40s, there was no such word as "civil rights." That really wasn't a term. But still, still, we have to... I think in all of us, we all have blood on our hands, we all do. Whether it's our ancestors, or the country we're from, or the ethnicity we represent, everyone. No one's perfect. We've all made mistakes. And so, but I just believe that you have to own them, and then that's the only way you really can move forward and have the impact that we needed to have. So anyways, that was the convention.

We did win the Inagaki Award. I was really thrilled. I worked really hard on putting all of it together. I worked three days to get everyone's stuff and put it all together because I knew our chapter had done wonderful work, wonderful work. So we were looking at it, it wasn't just what happened in 2000. It was stuff that was the end of 1998 until the beginning of 2000. And when I started going through and looking at everything, it was pretty amazing, I gotta say. I know... I'm kind of, I'm very proud. I was very proud of all that the Seattle chapter had accomplished, not just in my year, but the prior years for sure. And so, I was hoping that by highlighting and at least telling people what we did, it would be okay. And so, I was kind of surprised we won. I was happy. But we did win. And we had Gordon Hirabayashi at that. He was our guest speaker. Wasn't he? Yes. And I think he was, I think he was. So it was the first time I met him and I got to sit on the plane ride home, he was in the seat next to me. So got to talk to him at great length. And I was able to keep in contact with him and was able to have him, and all his brothers that were alive, and sister, and had them speak at one of my Day of Remembrance school programs. So that was really thrilling. That was years later. But anyways, so I think... let me just take a quick look.

BT: There were two other things. Oh, by the way, Inagaki Award is given every two years, for the Seattle, for the Chapter of the Biennium. And it's presented at National Convention, and Seattle's won that award more than any other chapter. And for the last three bienniums, we have won that award: 2014, 2016, '14, '16, '18, '20. We've, we got it this year also. So, from 2014 to now. We, it's been a straight string. Yay!

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