Discover Nikkei Logo

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/679/

Reflections on the importance of history

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.


civil rights discrimination governments identity interpersonal relations politics racism

Date: February 8, 2003

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Tom Ikeda, Margaret Chon

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Sansei male. Born in Los Angeles, California on October 13, 1946, and grew up in Gardena, California. Received B.A. in Political Science from University of Southern California, graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1968. Received J.D., 1971, from Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California. Mr. Minami was a co-founder of the Asian Law Caucus, Inc., a co-founder of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, the Asian Pacific Bar of California and the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans.

He was involved in significant litigation affecting civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other minorities, including Korematsu v. United States, a lawsuit to overturn a 40 year old conviction for refusal to obey exclusion orders aimed at Japanese Americans during WWII, originally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in landmark decisions; United Pilipinos for Affirmative Action v. California Blue Shield, the first class action employment lawsuit brought by Asian Pacific Americans on behalf of Asian Pacific Americans; Spokane JACL v. Washington State University, a class action on behalf of Asian Pacific Americans to establish an Asian American Studies program at Washington State University; and Nakanishi v. UCLA, a claim for unfair denial of tenure which resulted in the granting of tenure after widespread publicity over discrimination in academia.

Mr. Minami has taught at University of California, Berkeley and Mills College in Oakland, CA and has been a Commissioner of the State of California's Fair Employment and Housing Commission, a Commissioner on the State Bar of California, Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, the Chair of the Attorney General's Asian/Pacific Advisory Committee and a Member of Senator Barbara Boxer's Judicial Screening Committee. He was Chair of the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund Commission, appointed by President Clinton in 1994. Mr. Minami is a partner with Minami, Lew and Tamaki in San Francisco, and specializes in personal injury and entertainment law. (February 8, 2003)

Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki
en
ja
es
pt
Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki

Grandmother's influence on decision to go to Japan

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

en
ja
es
pt
Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro
en
ja
es
pt
Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro

A Possible Path towards Happiness… (Spanish)

(1958-2014) Former Bolivian Ambassador to Japan

en
ja
es
pt
George Ariyoshi
en
ja
es
pt
George Ariyoshi

Being fair

(b.1926) Democratic politician and three-term Governor of Hawai'i

en
ja
es
pt
George Katsumi Yuzawa
en
ja
es
pt
George Katsumi Yuzawa

Neighbors' sympathy after Pearl Harbor

(1915 - 2011) Nisei florist who resettled in New York City after WW II. Active in Japanese American civil rights movement

en
ja
es
pt
Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
en
ja
es
pt
Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Tree planting

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

en
ja
es
pt
Masako Iino
en
ja
es
pt
Masako Iino

Interest in Japanese migration studies (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

en
ja
es
pt
Masako Iino
en
ja
es
pt
Masako Iino

What is Nikkei? (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

en
ja
es
pt
Masako Iino
en
ja
es
pt
Masako Iino

Learning from Nikkei (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

en
ja
es
pt
Henry Shimizu
en
ja
es
pt
Henry Shimizu

Japanese Canadians get the right to vote in 1949

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

en
ja
es
pt
James Hirabayashi
en
ja
es
pt
James Hirabayashi

Nickname

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

en
ja
es
pt
James Hirabayashi
en
ja
es
pt
James Hirabayashi

Context affects meaning

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

en
ja
es
pt
Venancio Shinki
en
ja
es
pt
Venancio Shinki

Memories of my infancy: Japanese 1, Japanese 2… (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

en
ja
es
pt
James Hirabayashi
en
ja
es
pt
James Hirabayashi

Testing assumptions of Japanese scholars

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

en
ja
es
pt
Steve Kaji
en
ja
es
pt
Steve Kaji

FOB's

Hawaii born Nikkei living in Japan. English Teacher at YMCA.

en
ja
es
pt
Venancio Shinki
en
ja
es
pt
Venancio Shinki

Mistreating the Japanese community (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

en
ja
es
pt

Discover Nikkei Updates

NIKKEI CHRONICLES #13
Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi?
What’s in a name? Share the story of your name with our community. Submissions now open!
VIRTUAL PROGRAM
Nikkei Uncovered IV: a poetry reading
Join us virtually and enjoy poetry by Matthew Mejia, Christine Kitano, and Mia Ayumi Malholtra.
PROJECT UPDATES
NEW SITE DESIGN
See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon!