symposium poster

Voices of early redress activists captured in 1980 audio archive

symposium posterIf the fuse for public support of redress was lit with the first Days of Remembrance in Seattle and Portland in 1978 and ’79, the question was how to keep the momentum going into 1980. Our local congressman, Mike Lowry, had quickly introduced the first bill calling for direct and individual compensation for the government’s violation of Constitutional protections, but National JACL was going its own direction. Without a national organization of our own, we needed a vehicle to advance the discussion and keep the community engaged. 

Out of that need, Karen Seriguchi, Frank Chin, and I conceived of staging a symposium to thoughtfully consider the wartime injustice, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and then debate the case for redress pro and con. We secured the fiscal sponsorship of Jonis Davis and the American Friends Service Committee — the same local chapter of the Quaker group that backed Gordon Hirabayashi in his refusal to obey the curfew and eviction orders — and what was then called the Washington Commission for the Humanities funded us for three symposia on opposite ends of the state, one each in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane. We gave the series the lofty title of “Japanese America: Contemporary Perspectives on the Internment.” Internment was how it was called back then; now we know better and call it an incarceration. Frank Fujii designed the poster logo for us, just as he had for the Day of Remembrance.

I’ve lugged the reel-to-reel tapes of those events with me for 40 years. Thanks to audio archivist Charles Reinsch, the recordings of the first symposium, nearly five hours of panels held at Seattle Central Community College on January 19, 1980, are now digitized and posted online on the KRAB Audio Archive. KRAB-FM 107.7 was a volunteer listener-supported station (much like the old KPFA in San Francisco).  And look at this line-up:

Panel 1 – A Brief Portrait of Seattle’s Japanese American Community:  Its social, business, and family life

  • Justice Charles Z. Smith, conference moderator
  • Dr. Frank Miyamoto, sociologist and acting dean of arts and sciences, University of Washington
  • Monica Sone, clinical psychologist and author of Nisei Daughter

Panel 2 – Years of Infamy — Expulsion and Internment: The decision to intern Japanese Americans, and a look at life in the camps

  • Robert Sims, professor of history, Boise State University
  • Kimi Tambara, editor of the Minidoka Irrigator

Panel 3 – The Japanese American Vision: Japanese America as it is revealed in literature

  • Ron Mamiya, attorney and panel moderator
  • Sam Solberg, scholar, translator, and professor, University of Washington
  • Lonny Kaneko, poet and teacher
  • Frank Chin, playwright

Panel 4 – The Japanese American Vision — The Quiet American: Long-term psychological effects of the internment

  • cover of ProceedingsDr. Minoru Masuda, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, University of Washington
  • Robert Sims, professor of history, Boise State University
  • Monica Sone, clinical psychologist and author of Nisei Daughter
  • Joanne Fujita, sansei activist

Separate audio files for each panel are posted at the KRAB Audio Archive, with bookmarks for each speaker. Densho has also scanned and posted our published Proceedings from the conferences, edited by Karen and me.

reel-to-reel tape boxMy first attempt at radio broadcasting was to produce a half-hour summary of the Seattle symposium, which KRAB aired on February 19, 1980. That program featured my pre-KIRO Radio voice and is linked at the bottom of the Archive page.

Check back later for an update to hear the tapes from the symposium held at Gonzaga University on March 1, 1980.

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