Great Leap to Celebrate 40th Anniversary

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Nobuko Miyamoto and the late Chris Iijima wrote “We Are the Children” in 1970.

We are the children of the migrant worker,

We are the offspring of the concentration camp,

Sons and daughters of the railroad builder,

Who leave their stamp on America

Great Leap is turning 40, and you’re invited to celebrate.

Great Leap was one of the earliest arts organizations born of the Asian American movement of the 1970s. Finding voice through music, dance and theater gave a powerful expression for stories untold. Senshin Buddhist Temple provided a sacred space within community, to learn, collaborate, experiment and dream.

Artists, community members, students and scholars will gather on Sunday, March 11, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Senshin Buddhist Temple, 1311 W. 37th St. in Los Angeles, to look back to help to leap forward in these critical times.

Nobuko Miyamoto will discuss how her work on the ’70s album “A Grain of Sand” led to her path as a community artist and founder of Great Leap with Benny Yee. She will share photos and video of their band Warriors of the Rainbow as well as music and stories about the first Asian American rock musical, “Chop Suey” (1978-81).

The event will bring together Rev. Mas Kodani, Yee, Miyamoto’s dance class, members of Warriors of the Rainbow, the cast of “Chop Suey,” and others from the early years on the same wood floor at Senshin where it all began.

“I never thought I’d still be singing ‘We Are the Children,’ a song Chris Iijima and I wrote in 1970, but sometimes it’s the best way to capture the spirit and the meaning of the Asian American movement,” said Miyamoto. “That struggle was the fertile ground that grew so many of our cultural and expressions institutions that exist today, including Great Leap.

Iijima passed away in 2005, but Miyamoto said his spirit and music are “still with us.”

This is the first of four gatherings to be held in 2018-19, each reflecting a period of Great Leap’s art in L.A.’s social/political landscape.

For more information, contact Great Leap at (213) 534-7163, visit www.greatleap.org or go to the Great Leap, Inc. page on Facebook.

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