By NANCY ODA
It was a perfect day for the San Fernando Valley JACL — good food, good friends, and an excellent call to action by the chapter president, Harold Kameya, and Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center.
Master of ceremonies Barbara Okita welcomed representatives from the Greater Los Angeles, Oxnard, and SELANOCO chapters. PSW Governor David Kawamoto and his wife, Carol, made the event even more special.
Rev. Ruy Mizuki of Chatsworth West United Methodist Church beautifully sang both the invocation before our lunch and benediction at the end of the program that set the tone for a good New Year’s blessing.
Our guest speaker, Kent Wong, linked Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent social movement that resulted in improving the lives of all minorities, including Asians, in the ’60s. He reminded us that we are direct beneficiaries.
He noted that citizenship and land ownership eluded his own family for the first generation in the United States. He recounted his family’s journey to today and said the fifth generation needs to know more and be appreciative of not only their own family history but also Dr. King’s.
A story about 27-year-old Tam Tran’s life and death grabbed everyone’s attention. Her quest for citizenship and advocacy for the DREAM Act exemplified her passion for social and economic justice. Tam was a graduate of UCLA and a doctoral student at Brown University. She and fellow immigrant rights activist Cynthia Felix died in a car accident in Maine in 2010.
JACL Pacific Southwest District Director Stephanie Nitahara installed the 2015 board: Harold Kameya (president), Nancy Gohata, Keiko Kuratomi, Sumi Yamaguchi, Nancy Takayama, Patty Takayama, Barbara Okita, Geri Shiraki, C. Aujean Lee, Doreen Kawamoto. Barbara Okita, Mark Aquino, Phil Shigekuni, Marcia Mahony, Paul Jonokuchi, Karen Yoshino, Marion Shigekuni, Mitzi Kushida, Brian Moriguchi, Jean Paul DeGuzman, Aiden Katagihara, Linda Tanaka, Ellen Kameya, Linda Tanaka, Mabel Takimoto, Jami Tanihana, Michiko Tokunaga, traci ishigo, and Nancy Oda.
Second-term president Harold Kameya spoke about the history of the Japanese in Nanking in detail. He told of its absence in history books and how it relates to today’s issue of the Korean “comfort women.”
J.P. DeGuzman prepared the annual video full of photos from 2014 to the tune of “Happy” with colleague Nancy Takayama. Everyone was really pleased when Marion Shigekuni announced that he was receiving this year’s recognition.
At first, he was an undergraduate student at CSU Northridge working on a project about Japanese American history in the San Fernando Valley. He has been scholarship chair and recording secretary with vivid details for non-attending members. He could be found at the JACL Doughball booth at the Obon despite the intense summer heat. He has also written articles about social outings and Tuna Canyon Detention Station for the chapter, San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, Pacific Citizen, and The Rafu Shimpo. He is recognized as Doctor of Asian Studies at UCLA, an honor that he richly deserves.
He said that his ten years of participation with SFVJACL is a “drop in a bucket.” J.P., it must be a big bucket!
Nancy Gohata and Phil Shigekuni sang “Good Night Irene.” Barbara Okita closed the day with thanks and parting gifts for all.