Elaine Ikoma Ko

Elaine Ikoma Ko is the former Executive Director of the Hokubei Hochi Foundation, a nonprofit that helps The North American Post, Seattle’s Japanese community newspaper, where this article was first published. She is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council, an alumnus of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) to Japan, and leads spring and autumn group tours to Japan.

Updated April 2021

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Power of Our Stories

Michelle Kumata, A Japanese-American Artist with Brazilian Ancestral Roots

Seattle native Michelle Kumata’s artistic journey has taken her across the country to New York and across the hemisphere to Brazil, not only to discover her identity and legacy but to express it through her work. By exploring her family’s Japanese-Brazilian (JB) roots, she shares her story of how, through oral histories and visual art, she has established a legacy for future generations of her family.

A shy, only child growing up, Michelle has become an accomplished artist whose work has been showcased in The Seattle Times, and in cultural centers, museums, and galleries locally and across the nation. …

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Ruthann Kurose on Her Parents’ Legacy - Part 2

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How did your parents’ activism impact you, your siblings, and entire family? For example, your brother Guy was very influential in helping at-risk youth up until his untimely passing.

Our parents set examples for us between my father’s acts of compassion, in his personal relationships, and my mother’s community work as a teacher and civil rights activist.

Guy followed my mother’s example of working with young people. He spent years counseling at-risk youth, some of whom had been involved in gangs. Guy also resembled my father in that he earned the respect of young people through …

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Ruthann Kurose on Her Parents’ Legacy - Part 1

In Seattle, the Kurose family name is both legendary and synonymous with peace, activism, and community service. While the family has produced three generations of community activists, they have also experienced more than their share of personal tragedies: losing a family member during World War II, the wartime incarceration of parents Aki and “Junx” [Junelow], and losing three children—Hugo, Roland, and Guy—to cancer.

Yet, we bear witness to the first Seattle public school to be named after an Asian-American woman, Aki Kurose Middle School, an affordable housing complex named Aki Kurose Village, daughter Ruthann Kurose and her lifetime of community …

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