Born in Seattle

The Campaign for Japanese American Redress

Robert Sadamu Shimabukuro

  • Published: September 2015
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; History / Western History
  • Bibliographic information: 178 pp., appendixes, notes, bibliog., index, LC 2001027170, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

The story of the World War II internment of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and Japanese-born permanent residents is well known by now. Less well known is the history of the small group of Seattle activists who gave birth to the national movement for redress. It was they who first conceived of petitioning the U.S. Congress to demand a public apology and monetary compensation for the individuals and the community whose constitutional rights had been violated.

Robert Sadamu Shimabukuro, using hundreds of interviews with people who lived in the internment camps, and with people who initiated the campaign for redress, has constructed a very personal testimony, a monument to these courageous organizers' determination and deep reverence for justice. Born in Seattle follows these pioneers and their movement over more than two decades, starting in the late 1960s with second-generation Japanese American engineers at the Boeing Company, as they worked with their fellow activists to educate Japanese American communities, legislative bodies, and the broader American public about the need for the U.S. Government to acknowledge and pay for this wartime injustice and to promise that it will never be repeated.

"Redress is a triumph for all Americans, giving us the heart to pursue other ideals."
-Chizu Omori, from the Foreword

"Born in Seattle is a passionate telling of the Seattle story of Japanese American redress from the late 1960s to 1990. The story is rich and the voices compelling."
-Gail M. Nomura, University of Washington

"A clearly argued, well organized, lucidly communicated, and authoritative exploration of a key chapter in the historically important and consequential redress movement."
-Arthur A. Hansen, California State University, Fullerton

Foreword by Chizu Omorii
1. Awakening
2. Roadblocks
3. Remembrance
4. Circumvention
5. Testimony
6. Gestures
7. Determination
8. Arrival
Appendix 1 An Appeal for Action
Appendix 2 An Open Letter to Senator Hayakawa
Appendix 3 An American Promise

"An intimate portrait of the movement-the players and issues involved, the political landscape, and shifting alliances. . . . The Seattle Plan was the first concrete redress proposal and incorporated one key element of the redress legislation that finally passed in 1988-payments to individuals, rather than block grants to community agencies. Seattleites can be justifiably proud of the central role they played in the larger movement."
-Journal of Asian American Studies