Grayce Uyehara passed away on June 22, 2014. She was 94 and a long-time resident of the Philadelphia area. One of her major contributions was her role in making JACL’s redress initiative a legislative success story.
In 1984, when JACL’s efforts to seek passage of its redress legislation were stalled and in complete disarray, Grayce was asked to lead the effort as the executive director of JACL’s Legislative Education Committee (LEC) working out of JACL’s Washington, D.C. office. She, together with a team of volunteers, resuscitated the stalled redress initiative.
Her team consisted of Grant Ujifusa, Min Yasui, Cherry Kinoshita, Denny Yasuhara, Shig Wakamatsu, Mae Takahashi, Peggy Liggett, Molly Fujioka, Harry Kajihara, Tom Kometani, Rudy Tokiwa, Mary Tsukamoto, Art Morimitsu, Judy Niizawa, Meriko Mori and Ruth Hashimoto. They worked tirelessly to overcome obstacles in Congress, garnered support from key legislative leaders, and persuaded President Ronald Reagan to change his initial opposition to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which he signed on Aug. 10, 1988.
Grayce is depicted in artist Alfred J. Smith’s large acrylic painting “Crossing” (1986), which is hung in the Washington, D.C. Convention Center lobby area. The painting includes then-prominent community leaders crossing the street at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and M Street NW, Washington D.C.
Grayce was a kind and quiet person. When she did speak, she was always insightful, direct, and fearless in “telling it like it is.” I always listened and learned. I will miss her.
Gerald Yamada, Washington, D.C.