Densho Digital Repository
Seattle JACL Oral History Collection
Title: Sarah Baker Interview
Narrator: Sarah Baker
Interviewers: Brent Seto, Bill Tashima
Date: January 29, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-sjacl-2-31-5

<Begin Segment 5>

BS: Yeah, and then just building off of that, has the Seattle JACL done any work to protest the inhumane border conditions, or like the inhumane conditions migrants face such as at the Northwest Detention Center? Because I feel like the incarceration of Japanese Americans and the incarceration of migrants have a lot of similarities in many regards.

SB: Yeah, there are a lot of parallels there. And yeah, absolutely. There's been work done in that particular respect a little bit while I was president, and I think, I feel a lot while Stan Shikuma, our current president, has been at the helm. And I mean, yeah, there's been demonstrations at the Northwest Detention Center. Seattle JACL has worked really closely with Tsuru for Solidarity, to do different events. When Tsuru first started getting going, they had a call, because they were going to bring paper cranes to... oh, my gosh, why am I forgetting the name for...

BT: Dilley, Texas.

SB: Yeah, in Texas. And Seattle JACL really, really showed up for that. And, Bill, how many cranes did we end up sending? It was like...

BT: They asked for a thousand cranes, and we sent thirteen or fourteen thousand.

SB: That's... yeah, right. And it was just, again, really, really cool to see people doing something to support another community, right, because they understand the implications. And especially because a lot of us were able to make that trip, but we were like, oh, this is something very tangible that we can do and still contribute and still have our voices heard. That was really awesome.

BS: Yeah, and then that was just a little bit before my time. Could you explain the significance of the cranes for that event?

SB: Bill, do you want to explain this? You might have... I'm not, sometimes I'm not very good at explaining things.

BT: Well, I think the significance is mostly that the tsuru in Japanese culture is a symbol of hope, and it goes back to the bombing of Hiroshima. I mean, the crane goes back further than that. But the folding of the cranes goes back to Hiroshima. When one of the young girls, I think Sadako was her name, came down with leukemia. And then her dream was if she could fold a thousand cranes, tsurumai, that her wish would come true. And she was wishing to get better and for world peace, but she died before she completed it. But the thing is, since that time, people have been folding tsuru, a thousand cranes, as a symbol of hope. You go to Hiroshima, at the museum, you'll see literally hundreds of thousands of strung cranes there. And so the idea for the cranes at the incarceration camp was to give, show solidarity by hanging all these cranes on the fence that surrounds the incarceration center, and that the people would see them looking out their window and know that that, that other people cared and knew about them. And they would hear people chanting and taiko drums, and give them hope.

BS: Yeah, that's really powerful.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2022 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.