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[R.I.P.] Norika Sawada Bridges Flynn - Japanese American Civil Rights Activist

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  • madchinaman
    Norika Flynn, 79; Writer Fought for Civil Rights http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me- flynn19feb19,1,1131463.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dobituaries Norika
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2003
      Norika Flynn, 79; Writer Fought for Civil Rights
      http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-
      flynn19feb19,1,1131463.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dobituaries

      Norika Sawada Bridges Flynn, a Japanese American civil-rights
      activist and writer who successfully challenged Nevada's law barring
      mixed marriages, has died. She was 79.

      Flynn died Feb. 7 in Palo Alto. The cause of death was not reported.

      It was Flynn's marriage to Harry Bridges, the longtime head of the
      International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, in 1958 that
      upset Nevada's law barring mixed marriages.

      Flynn and Bridges eloped to Reno and tried to marry Dec. 7, 1958.
      After three days of being barred from even obtaining a marriage
      license by Nevada officials, Bridges and Flynn went to court. A
      federal judge ruled that Nevada's 94-year-old law banning mixed
      marriages was unconstitutional. On Dec. 11, the couple were married
      in a Reno courtroom.

      Flynn was born Norika Sawada in Gardena in 1923. Her parents were
      itinerant farmers, and the family made its living growing tomatoes,
      strawberries and beans in Santa Ana.

      In early 1942, her family was ordered to evacuate the West Coast
      along with more than 100,000 other Japanese Americans under
      Executive Order 9066.

      "My mother was fearful that we would be put in the desert where no
      one could see us, and we would be executed if U.S. hostages were put
      to death in the war," Flynn told the Chicago Tribune some years ago.
      Still, they went, Flynn said, "like sheep ... thinking it was
      patriotic."

      They took a bus to Poston, Ariz., where they lived at a "relocation
      center" on an Indian reservation for the duration of the war.

      Flynn spent her time teaching dancing, offering classes in the fox-
      trot, jitterbug and waltz.

      After the war, she moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where she
      worked as a legal secretary. She later worked for Charles Garry, a
      lawyer best known for defending Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver.

      She became politically active, working with the AFL-CIO, and helped
      in efforts to relocate Japanese Americans returning to the West
      Coast from internment camps. She also became active in efforts to
      gain reparations from the U.S. government for those held in the
      camps.

      At the age of 50, Flynn, who had spent a year in junior college
      before her family was ordered to evacuate, enrolled at San Francisco
      State University. She became an accomplished writer whose work
      appeared in Harper's and Ms. magazines.

      After Bridges' death in 1990, she married Ed Flynn, a former head of
      the Pacific Maritime Assn. who had often battled Bridges in labor
      talks over the years.

      In addition to Flynn, she is survived by her daughter, Katherine
      Bridges Wiggins; and two stepchildren, Robert Bridges and Marie
      Shell.

      Memorial services are pending.

      =============

      Noriko Sawada Bridges Flynn
      http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/nation/5200494.htm
      http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-
      deaths0217feb17,0,479629.story?coll=sns-ap-nationworld-headlines
      http://580wdbo.com/common/ap/2003/02/17/D7P8N7J00.html
      http://www.legacy.com/LegacySubPage1.asp?Page=APStory&Id=4992

      PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) - Noriko Sawada Bridges Flynn, a writer and
      civil rights activist who married labor leader Harry Bridges and
      later married one of his rivals, died on Feb. 7. She was 79.

      Flynn's first marriage, to International Longshoremen's and
      Warehousemen's Union leader Bridges, took place only after the
      couple forced a change to a Nevada law banning interracial marriages.

      Her second marriage, after Bridges' death, was to Ed Flynn, who
      represented the shipping lines that Bridges fought against.

      Flynn was born in 1923 in Gardena, the daughter of Japanese
      immigrants. As a teenager, her entire family was interned for three
      years at an Arizona camp. After release from the camp, she moved to
      Berkeley and became active with unions and an interracial committee.

      Flynn became active in the fight for reparations for Japanese-
      American internees. Her poem, "To Be or Not to Be: There is No Such
      Option," was read at a ceremony when the U.S. government apologized
      for the internment.

      =================

      Widow of labor leader Harry Bridges dies
      Associated Press
      http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/5200768.htm

      PALO ALTO, Calif. - Noriko Sawada Bridges Flynn, a writer and civil
      rights activist who married labor leader Harry Bridges and later
      married one of his rivals, died Feb. 7 at the age of 79.

      Flynn's first marriage, to International Longshoremen's and
      Warehousemen's Union leader Bridges, took place only after the
      couple forced a change to a Nevada law banning interracial marriages.

      Her second marriage, after Bridges' death, was to Ed Flynn, who
      represented the shipping lines that Bridges fought against.

      Flynn was born in 1923 in Gardena, the daughter of Japanese
      immigrants. As a teenager, her entire family was interned for three
      years at an Arizona camp. After release from the camp, she moved to
      Berkeley and became active with unions and an interracial committee.

      She met Bridges in 1958 and they went to Reno, Nev., later that year
      to elope, but initially were rejected before a frenzy of publicity
      cleared the way for the wedding.

      Flynn became active in the fight for reparations for Japanese-
      American internees. Her poem, "To Be or Not to Be: There is No Such
      Option," was read at a ceremony when the U.S. government apologized
      for the internment.

      After Bridges died in 1990, she developed a close friendship with Ed
      Flynn, a widower and retired president of the Pacific Maritime
      Association. They married in 1994.

      She is survived by her husband; a daughter, Katherine Bridges
      Wiggins of Bandon, Ore.; a stepson, Robert Bridges of Fremont; and a
      granddaughter, Marie Shell of San Francisco
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