July 4, 2016 – HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Dear friends of Never Give Up!
Top of the news: We have adjusted our production schedule based on the decision of co-directors Will Doolittle and Holly Yasui to focus on the first part of Min Yasui’s life, through the end of World War II, for the October 19, 2016 centennial celebration in Hood River, Oregon (see below).
Part I of Never Give Up!, which will cover Min Yasui’s childhood, college career, and wartime experiences, will run approximately 50 minutes – appropriate for a classroom, a community event or a broadcast hour. This self-contained unit will include a temporary ending showing President Barak Obama’s awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Min Yasui in 2015 and a farewell speech given by Yasui himself in April of 1986, just seven months before he died of cancer.
Part II of Never Give Up! will cover Min Yasui’s post-war work in Denver, continuing to defend the civil rights of all people – ethnic and religious minorities, persons of all ages, the economically and socially disadvantaged; family life, and leadership in the redress movement, including the reopening of his own legal case 40 years after it was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Our new goal for the premiere of the complete film is March 28, 2017 –Minoru Yasui Day in Oregon.
We feel that this division of the film into two parts is more practical in terms of our own personal and work schedules and will result in a much better final than if we pushed to complete the entire film by October 16, 2016 as originally announced. George Takei will be recording narration for Part I next week, and Shoji Kameda will start composing musical themes for the film this summer so that the film we show in Hood River in October will be a nicely finished piece.
REPORT ON JUNE SCREENINGS
In June, the almost-finished Part I of Never Give Up! was screened in Ontario, Oregon; in Twin Falls, Idaho; and in Seattle, Washington.
As part of the excellent program entitled “Vision and Vigilance,” the work-in-progress Part I of Never Give Up! was screened, after a reading of excepts from the play Citizen Min and roundtable discussions on issues of racial profiling, immigration, human rights. Many thanks to Chisao Hata and Lynn Fuchigami who organized the event, with funding from the Oregon Humanities and exceptional local outreach and support by Matt Springer of the Four Rivers Community Center. The turnout was impressive: over 100 people attended, including the mayor, members of the City Council, Police Chief and two county judges.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting and staying at the home of Mrs. Mika Asai Huiga, former resident of Hood River, Oregon. Mika, 92 years old, is the great-aunt of two members of the Min Yasui Tribute committee in Portland, Jessica and Kristen Asai. Mika prepared an great Japanese lunch for me and two friends from Hood River … we had a great time looking at a photo that is featured in Never Give Up! of the Japanese Community Center, taken around 1938. Mika identified her dad and brother, and a number of friends … Please see below the photo, which appears in the film right before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Sarah Segal, Hood River Middle School teacher and I made a presentation at the Minidoka Pilgrimage on Friday, June 24 at the College of Southern Idaho campus. Over 50 people attended the screening of the first part of Never Give Up! and Sarah’s presentation on her curriculum on Minoru Yasui. The next morning, we took a very quick tour of the Minidoka Historic Site, to admire the reconstructed guard tower, Honor Roll memorial, several barracks buildings, an interesting root cellar and the newly completed baseball diamond. It was over 100 degrees during the day and got down to the 40s at night – I got a whopper of a cold and wonder how many people from the temperate West Coast got sick from the terrible extremes of the high desert back in 1942 …
In Seattle we held two events, on Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26, thanks to our fiscal sponsor, Seattle JACL, with Bill Tashima as our liaison and Ken Kurata, treasurer. The events were funded in part by Humanities Washington.
On Saturday, the Wing Luke Museum hosted a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion and audience talk-back. The theatre was full to capacity, and a few people were turned away. The panel was exceptional with representatives from the Muslim, Latino and Black communities (see below), and the audience response excellent, discussing issues of current concern in this critical election year.
(left to right) Fé López, Tom Ikeda, Lori Bannai, Holly Yasui, Eddie Rye, Jr., Tarek Dawoud
The Sunday event was a reading of the play Citizen Min, sponsored by Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, directed by Jacquie Moscou (of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center) and Nikki Louis. At the reception after the reading, Bill Tashima outdid himself by having a very special birthday cake made for Min Yasui’s 100th birthday! See below Sharon Maeda, who was emcee for both events, cutting the cake.
Sharon Maeda, Bill Tashima and Holly
NEW ASSISTANT PRODUCER
Theodore Caleb Hass, recent graduate from Occidental College with a major in film, is our new Assistant Producer.
Theodore Caleb is the son of Lise Yasui, Min Yasui’s niece, who directed the film Family Gathering (from which we are using some footage). He filmed the promo of George Takei last year, and will be helping the co-directors with tasks such as updating the webpage and social media; keeping lists for credits and permissions; seeking grants; coordinating transcripts, etc.
Welcome to the team, Theodore Caleb!
On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 – Min Yasui’s 100th birthday – Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice, Part I will lead off the 2016-17 “Sense of Place” lecture series in Hood River, Oregon, at the Columbia Center for the Arts. Peggy Nagae, who was Min Yasui’s attorney when he re-opened his legal case in 1983 and who is featured in the film, will speak about his legacy. Holly Yasui and Will Doolittle, co-authors will be on hand to answer questions about the film. The screening will take place after the dedication of a memorial stone at the Public Library and a “100th birthday bash.”
The film will also be screened on Friday, October 21at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, sponsored by the local chapter of the JACL.
In Denver, Robin Yasui continues to organize the centennial celebration there, with the support of Rosemary Evetts of the Auraria Library Archives, which will host the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Minoru Yasui exhibit. The film will be screened at that event, which will take place at the Tivoli Student Union of the Auraria Campus on Sunday, October 23.