Dear friends of Never Give Up!
Well, March was an exciting month for us, with the first Minoru Yasui Day in Oregon on March 28, in commemoration of the day that he violated the military curfew in order to initiate his test case.
The day started with filming at the Oregon Historical Society – Barbara Yoshida Berthiaume, from Washington state, who came down for the celebration (in 1970, Barbara and George Takei were fellowship winners along with Min Yasui for a 6-week course at Sophia University in Tokyo) and Kerry Tymchuk, the Executive Director of OHS.
Will Doolittle and I are now busy editing the first half of the film and a quick summary of the second half for a 30-minute work-in-progress that will be screened at the Minoru Yasui Symposium: Inspiring Action and Igniting Justice on April 23 in Portland. For more information, see http://oregonnikkei.org/activities.htm#symposium where you can also register online. Please share this information with your friends and associates in the Portland area, it is sure to be an interesting, informative and hopefully inspiring event.
Family and friends witnessed the signing of HB 4009 by Governor Kate Brown at the World Trade Center in Portland. A historic moment! Now Minoru Yasui Day will be celebrated in Oregon every March 28 in perpetuity!
Then in the afternoon, we adjourned to the Oregon Nikkei Endowment (ONE) for the gathering of participants in the first Minoru Yasui Day “March for Justice.”
The organizers handed out buttons and signs in preparation for the 6-block walk from Min’s first law office in the former Foster Hotel to the Police Headquarters – the route he took when he deliberately violated the discriminatory military curfew in order to initiate his test case. Will and his assistant Carla Contreras, from Mexico, filmed brief “man-on-the-street” interviews with people gathered at ONE. We plan to use some of this footage in the prologue of the film.
People of all ages marched, including long-time Portland activist, centenarian Nobuko Masuoka and baby Elija Shine, son of Anna Cho, minister of Epworth Methodist Church and all ages in between.
Sarah Segal, award-winning teacher at Hood River Middle school brought 17 students including many who participated in the video letter supporting the nomination of Minoru Yasui for the Presidential Medal of Freedom giving of testimony in the Oregon state legislature in support of the Minoru Yasui Day bill last months.
Niko Yasui, my cousins’ youngest son, also brought a busload of high-school students, so we were very pleased that there were many young people in attendance – making for a great diversity of people from all walks of life “walking the walk” in honor of Minoru Yasui’s courageous act of resistance in 1942.
Standing room only at the former Police Headquarters!
Garland Lyons and Heath Hyun re-enact Minoru Yasui’s arrest (scene from the play Citizen Min)
Estimates range from 300-500 participants for the very successful inaugural March for Justice on the first Minoru Yasui Day in Oregon. All in all – a great success! We look forward to continuing this tradition in years to come!
We have also received grants from the Idaho Humanities Council and Humanities-Washington for screenings of the 30-minute work-in-progress. It will be shown at the Minidoka Pilgrimage on Friday June 24, along with a reading by Heath Hyun of a monologue entitled EO9066 and a panel consisting of Heath, Middle School teacher Sarah Segal who has developed a curriculum on Min Yasui, and myself. In Seattle, we will show the work-in-progress at the Wing Luke Museum on Saturday, June 25, with the same monologue and a panel consisting of Tom Ikeda, founder of the Densho project; Lori Bannai, Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University; and Devon Abdallah, Arab American Community Coalition.
In other news, the Smithsonian Institute National Portrait Gallery is in the process of reviewing two original photos of Minoru Yasui for their collection, which may be acquired for their permanent collection next month (May, 2016) if approved. The Colorado Supreme Court has also recently named a conference room after Minoru Yasui, and mounted a plaque in his honor, describing him as “one of Colorado’s fiercest defenders of the rule of law.”
Please continue to tell your friends about our film and website.
p.s. In March we received donations of $1375, which officially put us over the $40,000 mark – that pretty much guarantees that we will be able to complete the film. We will announce our fundraising drive at all future screenings of the work-in-progress and pursue grant opportunities to make up the $50,000 which is our final goal.