May 15, 2016
Dear supporters of Never Give Up!
April and May have been busy months … Here are some highlights …
April 23 symposium in Portland
Will and I (mostly Will) burned the midnight oil during the month of April in order to complete the rough cut off the first half of the film on April 23 at the Minoru Yasui “Inspiring Activism and Igniting Justice” symposium, sponsored by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. We screened it at the end of the event, which was indeed “inspiring” and “igniting” …
“I will follow in Min’s footsteps” cutouts on the wall of the World Trade Center, where the Minoru Yasui symposium was held on April 23, 2016.
Some quotes from the “footsteps”
- Walking the talk, loudly!
- Supporting and fostering cross-collaboration.Becoming voice for the forgotten and the voiceless.
- Continuing to tell the Nikkei story and encourage students to speak up for class mates who are or feel marginalized.
- Raising my daughters to be conscious of their world and to know how to be good listeners and learners.To be able to see and respect other people’s stories.
- Continuing my education in higher education in order to make visible the stories of those who have been dismissed in our nation’s history as key contributors to our world.
- Advocating justice for those with no voice and make sure everyone is heard.
- Continuing to find inspiring individuals and organization to work with and support; and continue to keep open-minded about the experiences and perspective of others.
- Speaking up, standing up for justice.
- Working, researching and presenting the definition of “American”.
In addition to the three workshops, on Education, on Cross-Cultural Activism and on Law and Social Change, the symposium included a moving keynote speech by Karen Narasaki, appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. We also filmed a few more “on-the-spot” interviews, with students who came to the symposium on scholarship and members of the Muslim community.We received a good number of evaluations of our rough-cut and incorporated many suggestions into the cut that was taken to New Mexico … (see below)
April 30 symposium in Los Angeles
The next weekend, Peggy Nagae and I flew to Los Angeles to participate in the Minoru Yasui Centennial symposium there, entitled “Civil Rights Today,” organized by June Berk and Alan and Joanne Kumamoto at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM).
Alan Kumamoto, emcee, and speakers from left to right: Ron Wakabayashi, Irum Shiekh, Norman Mineta, Holly Yasui and Peggy Nagae.
At this event we screened a clip from the ending of the film, of President Obama’s speech at the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, and the closing speech by Minoru Yasui at the University of California-San Diego. We also showed the film trailer.
Several members of my family attended the symposium, including my cousin Robin Yasui who is organizing a “birthday party” for Min Yasui in Denver, scheduled for October 23, 2016. That will be the Colorado premiere of Never Give Up! We also confirmed the Los Angeles premiere of Never Give Up! for April 1, 2017 at JANM.
New Mexico Tour – May 2-9
I flew to New Mexico the next day for a 8-day tour throughout the state with the “Citizen Min in New Mexico” program, thanks to Nikki Louis and Victor Yamada of New Mexico JACL.
The program included the opening of the film, a reading of the play “Citizen Min,” and the closing of the film followed by audience question-and-answer session. The schedule was as follows:
May 2 – Gallup
May 3 – Soccorro
May 4 – Las Cruces
May 5 – Silver City
May 6 – Santa Fe
May 7 – Albuquerque
May 8 – Mother’s Day!
May 9 – Los Alamos
In Las Cruces, the mayor Ken Miyagishima, who is of Japanese and Mexican descent, announced the declaration of Minoru Yasui Day in his city, following the lead of the state of Oregon. He brought his family, including Nisei dad and Mexican wife Rosa, with whom I enjoyed conversation in Spanish!
In Santa Fe, I met Catyana and Anthony Falsetti, from Phoenix, Arizona, who are interested in bringing Never Give Up! to their city this fall in conjunction with the Arizona JACL.
In Albuquerque, radio play producer Linda Lopez McAlister will be recording the play for broadcast in two parts, and also for syndication on the public radio network – thanks to Mary Oishi, of KUNM radio, who plays the role of Michi. This audio recording will be an excellent accompaniment to the film and educational curriculum.
Editing & fundraising continues
Will and I are now moving into the second half of the film, which will include the draft-resisters controversy, Min’s continuing work in Denver in defense of the human and civil rights of all people, and the redress movement and re-opening of his World War II legal case. We have an appointment with George Takei for recording the narration on August 29 in order to complete the film for the 100th birthday of Min Yasui on October 19, 2016. At that time, the final cut will also go to Shoji Kameda for composition of the musical score.
We have a lot of work to do by then!
During April and May, we have received four more donations, bringing our total to $41,215. Many thanks to all our supporters … we are inching closer to our goal!
Co-director, Never Give Up!