Joining the Civil Rights Movement

Japanese Canadian Concentration Camps Postwar Deportation Attempts Resettling in Chatham Father's Sacrifice Joining the Civil Rights Movement Chauffeuring the SNCC Leadership Navigating the movement as an Asian Photographing the movement Re-examining Identity Defining "Nikkei"

Transcripts available in the following languages:

There’s the thing of instinct for survival, and there's an instinct of psychic survival, where you know there's a nitty gritty moment, that you have to figure it out. And you figure it out on a kind of instinctive gut level. And I knew that I'd screwed up, and that I had to work it out.

So during that summer, I'm going through one disaster after another, because my heart is broken. And in the meantime, I turn on the TV. And there's this amazing drama unfolding in the Southern United States. There's black and white kids sitting at a forbidden counter, and there's Coke being poured on them. They're thrown to the floor, and they're surrounded by whites, by violence, and they want to kill them. And they get up, take back their seat, and they sit there. More Coke is poured on them, they get thrown on the floor, they pick themselves up and sit there.

And I'm thinking, Holy Mac! I knew what they were doing. In my heart of hearts, I understood. Yeah, man. I understand what your struggle is. And I understand that your passion is my passion. Really. And so I don't know, came this weird phase of thought, that I had to go check it out. So I said, “Well, Mom, I've worked hard all summer.” And that summer, I borrowed $850 from her to buy a Volkswagon Beetle, which allowed me to get one of the prime summer jobs in the city, which was gathering crop samples for Libby's. Wonderful job. Pay wasn't great, but the mileage was terrific. The critical thing was that I had wheels, I had mobility. So I said, “Okay, Mom, I worked hard all summer, I'm just going to take a short little vacation before going back and finishing my University education.” So I jumped in the car and I drove South. And poor mom, I didn't see her until about a year later. And I never did finish my education.

Date: February 9, 2011
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida, John Esaki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

activism civil rights movement

Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

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