THE PRIDE OF PACOIMA: Six Japanese Americans Depicted in City Hall Courtyard Mural

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The mural honors the founders of the San Feranando Valley Japanese American Community Center and the San Fernando Valley Judo Club, along with two local doctors.

By PATRICIA E. TAKAYAMA

The newly opened Neighborhood City Hall in Pacoima, which provides services to the northeast San Fernando Valley, honored 31 people, including six Japanese Americans, in a courtyard mural. The public unveiling ceremony took place on July 26.

Created by artist Ignacio Gomez, the mural depicts historic sites in Pacoima associated with events dating back to 1888 and features the ethnically mixed population that is the hallmark of the region. Among those featured on the mural are the founders of the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, Mitsuo Usui, Berry Tamura and Tom Ikuta; doctors Sanbo Sakaguchi and Mary Oda, who delivered over 4,000 babies and treated countless local residents; and Seigo Murakami, founder of the San Fernando Valley Judo Club, whose dojo was the site of the 1984 Olympics training center.

Dr. Mary Oda stands next to her portrait.

In attendance were numerous persons honored in the mural, including Dr. Oda and Dr. Sakaguchi, professional boxer Bobby Chacon and actor Jacob Vargas, to name a few. Also present was actor Danny Trejo, who apparently grew up in Pacoima. Despite his numerous film and TV credits, he was not included in the mural. Also depicted in the mural are singer Richie Valens; football players Anthony Davis and Heisman Trophy winner Charles White; Nancy Avery, postmaster; and comedian George Lopez.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcon introduced the widow of Frank Del Olmo, who was also honored in the mural. Del Olmo was a journalist who wrote for the L.A. Times and a Pulitzer Prize recipient. Alarcon announced that he recently submitted a resolution to change the name of the City Hall to honor Del Olmo, whose life and achievements are an inspiration to all the residents of area.

Alarcon, whose office is located on the second floor of the City Hall, introduced State Sen. Alex Padilla, whose efforts while serving on the Los Angeles City Council initiated plans to establish a City Hall for residents of the northeast San Fernando Valley.

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