Martha Nakagawa

Martha Nakagawa has worked in the Asian American press for the past two decades, and has been on staff with Asian Week, the Rafu Shimpo, and the Pacific Citizen. She frequently contributes to the Nikkei West, Hawaii Herald, Nichi Bei Times, and the Hokubei Mainichi.

Updated June 2008

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Civil Rights Leader Bill Nishimura Celebrates 100th Birthday

TORRANCE — When Toru Bill Nishimura was born 100 years ago in Compton, the area was still farmland. Gardena Valley was a real valley where herons gathered in the water pools and jack rabbits and coyotes roamed the area.

Nishimura is a graduate of Leuzinger High School and is currently the oldest living alum.

In 1941 when the United States entered World War II, Nishimura and his family were farming on the Kurata Ranch, which is now considered the City of Lawndale. Shortly after war broke out, the FBI came to Nishimura’s home, ransacked the place and took his father ...

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Obituary: Cedrick Shimo, 100: Wartime Resister, American Honda Exec.

Cedrick Masaki Shimo, a World War II military resister and an executive at American Honda Motors, USA, passed away peacefully on April 1. He was 100.

Shimo was the only child born to Tamori and Yoshiko Urakami Shimo, both from Okayama. However, Shimo’s maternal family was originally from the Kagoshima region and had fought alongside Saigo Takamori.

Shimo was born in Heber, Calif., in the Imperial Valley. At the time, his father was running a sizable cotton farm in the Imperial Valley, but when the price of cotton collapsed, the family moved to Boyle Heights, where Shimo grew up ...

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Gardena Valley Gardeners Association to Disband

The Gardena Valley Gardeners Association (GVGA), once an influential force in the South Bay, will officially disband at the end of 2015.

The GVGA came full circle as it held its last official meeting in November, at the same location where it had held its first official meeting—at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute (JCI).

Back in the summer of 1955, however, when the GVGA first officially met with approximately 60 people, the JCI was still known as the Gardena Valley Japanese Community Center.

The decision to disband was not a difficult one. “Nobody comes to the meetings,” said ...

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Nanka Nikkei Voices


Akio “Lawrence” Nakagawa, a Kibei from the Sacramento Delta region, was interned at the Topaz, Utah camp. Answering the loyalty question “No-No,” he was transferred to Tule Lake, California, where he remained until the war ended, leaving in September of 1945.

When he was released from Tule Lake, he decided to head towards the Midwest to Minneapolis, Minnesota. There, he enrolled himself at the North Central Bible School, a school he had heard about through an Oakland-based Caucasian minister whom he met before his forced relocation into camp.

Akio’s train ride to Minneapolis was uneventful except for one incident ...

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Enduring Communities

Little Tokyo’s Bronze Age

The Bronzeville era of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo lasted about three short years during World War II. But before I talk about Bronzeville, it should be noted that African Americans occupied the area that we now call Little Tokyo more than 100 years ago. To illustrate this point, the modern Pentecostal movement, which was started by Rev. William J. Seymour, an African American minister from Texas, had its beginning in 1906 in an abandoned warehouse on Azusa Street in the area we now call Little Tokyo because back in the early 1900s, this area was considered an African American district ...

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