Reflections on the importance of history

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One thing I've learned about these cases—and it's not just these cases, but I think it's from, from my experience—is the importance of history. I've always felt that people need to understand history not only just to understand the present and the future, but it helps place them in the flow of history. Helps them determine what their identity is.

And the analogy I would use is like history is like, learning history is like climbing a mountain, for Asian Pacific Americans by getting, when you get halfway up the mountain you could look down and look back and you could see the paths blazed by African Americans and Latino and Latina Americans, Native Americans who took this inspired journey to civil rights, and led the path up that mountain for Asian Pacific Americans to follow. And to them we owe a debt, and that's a debt we know we owe because we know history. But from halfway up the mountain, you can also look up and see how far, how much further you have to go and that's why history provides you with that guide to be able to look up and know that, okay, we have not reached the mountaintop of equality.

There's still a way to go but to understand that there are people traveling the same path with us is something that history gives us and something that we should know forever because it then not only inspires us but helps us develop practical political strategy.

Date: February 8, 2003
Location: Washington, US
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda, Margaret Chon
Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

civil rights discrimination identity politics racism

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