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Five Views of Redress: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary


Guest curator: Eric Nakamura

Eric Nakamura

Writer; co-founder and editor of Giant Robot magazine

Campaign poster for George Takei's bid for Los Angeles City Council, 1973.

Gift of George Takei (98.361.3)

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Picking an artifact related to Redress proved difficult. What links me to the Redress Movement? I was too naive to have heard of it while I was in junior high and high school, except for the $20,000 reparations check that went to my father. Could an artifact just be that memory of a check? A family photo? A rice bowl? What other items resonate with Redress for those who are about my age or younger?

Looking through the shelves and drawers of historical documents, objects, and art, I came across a 1973 poster of George Takei running for Councilman in Los Angeles. My first impression is that it’s amazing to see a Japanese American face on a political campaign poster, especially from the 1970s.

But how does the poster relate to Redress? I feel that the poster speaks volumes since although it’s from 1973, it represents the collision of Japanese American history and pop culture. We don’t learn or hear about Redress in school history books; we hear about it through conversations, historical articles, and through outspoken people like George Takei. Imagine, he played an original Star Trek character in the 1960s, and could easily be cruising the Trekkie conventions around the world. Yet he forged a career in politics, social issues, and causes including Redress and the Human Rights Campaign. He even champions the museum you’re standing in now. Whether or not you enjoy his show business career, which may actually be yet to peak, you can’t deny the inspiration he provides from his off-camera work. Imagine, he actually lost that campaign in 1973. Know who won?

Based on this original

George Takei
uploaded by editor
Framed campaign poster for George Takei's bid for Los Angeles City Council, 1973 Gift of George Takei Japanese American National Museum permanent collection Frame 22 x 17 1/8 in. H: … More »

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