Photo by Sarah Segal
INTERNMENT camp survivor George Nakata, left, walks Minoru Yasui’s footsteps in Portland on Monday. With him are Michelle Kinoshita (Hood River Middle School student), Jorge Chavez (HRMS student), and Holly Yasui, Minoru Yasui’s youngest daughter.
As of Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Seventy-four years ago, the United States government placed a curfew on all west coast people of Japanese heritage in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
On March 27, 1936, the Hood River News ran a story about a speech a college-aged Yasui gave to the Rotary Club on the struggle of second generation Japanese Americans, accepted neither in America nor in Japan. See Yesteryears, http://www.hoodri...
Hood River-born Minoru Yasui was a lawyer and knew this act was against the law, and that it was racially discriminatory and unconstitutional. With faith that the American Judicial System would prevail, on March 28, 1942, he took the first steps in challenging this unjust curfew and Executive Order 9066. Setting out at 8 p.m. from his law office, he meandered the streets of Portland to purposely break the curfew.
Meanwhile, his secretary called the police numerous times to informed about his civil disobedience. After three hours of walking and not being arrested, Yasui arrived at the Portland Police Station and demanded officers arrest him.
A life of fighting for human rights had begun.
This past Monday afternoon, Gov. Kate Brown signed March 28 Minoru Yasui Day into law. To honor his courageous actions, 16 Hood River Middle School students traveled to Portland’s Japantown to join community members from across Oregon in the Minoru Yasui Day “March for Justice.”
The parade followed Yasui’s 1942 walk from his law office, along Third Avenue, and ended at the historic SW Second Avenue and Oak Street Portland Police Station.
Leading the way, students joined Yasui’s family members, Rep. Mark Johnson, and Japanese interment survivors in carrying the banner while other students held signs celebrating the historic day and peacefully rallied in support of justice for all.
Yasui attended high school at present-day Hood River Middle School. Every day I walk the halls of HRMS, stepping in the historic footsteps of one of the greatest civil rights leaders in United States history.
On Monday, March 28, I celebrated his legacy by walking the path that led to his legacy.
Keeley Brownback is an eighth grader at Hood River Middle School.