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[R.I.P.] Yuji Ichioka, 66; Led Way in Studying Lives of Asian Americans

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  • madchinaman
    PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE September 6, 2002 For jpeg photos of Professor Ichioka, please contact: mugao@pop.ucla.edu UCLA PROF YUJI ICHIOKA, THE CREATOR
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2002
      PRESS RELEASE
      FOR IMMEDIATE USE September 6, 2002
      For jpeg photos of Professor Ichioka, please contact:
      mugao@...


      'UCLA PROF YUJI ICHIOKA, THE CREATOR OF ASIAN AMERICA, LEAVES MAJOR
      LEGACY"


      The faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UCLA Asian American
      Studies Center mourn the loss of their renowned scholar, teacher,
      colleague, mentor, activist, and friend -- Professor Yuji Ichioka --
      who passed away in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 1, 2002.
      --------------------------------------------------------
      YUJI ICHIOKA: Renowned UCLA Historian (1936-2002)

      Internationally renowned historian and Asian American Studies pioneer
      Yuji Ichioka died on Sunday, September 1, 2002, in Los Angeles. He
      was born on June 23, 1936 in San Francisco. During part of his
      childhood, Ichioka and his family were forcibly removed and
      incarcerated in the USA Topaz concentration camp during World War II.
      Prof. Ichioka dedicated much of his life to social justice and
      scholarly research in the U.S., Japan, and Latin America. He is
      survived by his wife, Emma Gee.


      Prof. Ichioka created the term "Asian American" in the late 60s.
      While at U.C. Berkeley, where he organized the Asian American
      Political Alliance in 1968, he was an activist for Civil Rights and
      against the Vietnam War. Prof. Ichioka was a key founder of the ASIAN
      AMERICAN STUDIES CENTER at UCLA, where he taught its first Asian
      American Studies class in 1969. For nearly thirty-three years, Prof.
      Ichioka was a Senior Researcher at the Center and an Adjunct
      Professor in the Department of History. He was a dedicated instructor
      who mentored both undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom
      went on to become leading researchers and university professors.

      "Our Center and the fields of U.S. history, Asian American Studies,
      and immigrant studies," said Professor Don T. Nakanishi, DIRECTOR OF
      THE UCLA ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES CENTER, "will forever benefit from
      Professor Ichioka's path-breaking intellectual contributions, his
      courageous leadership, and his fiery social commitment. He was a
      giant presence. He was also an avid basketball player."


      The preeminent scholar of Japanese American history, Prof. Ichioka
      authored the seminal book,The Issei: The World of the First
      Generation Japanese Immigrant, 1885-1924, which was nominated for the
      1988 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History and awarded the 1989
      U.S. History Book Award of the National Association for Asian
      American Studies. Prof. Ichioka, an important historian of the
      Japanese American internment during World War II, testified at the
      Congressional hearings that resulted in the official Presidential
      apology and redress of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.


      Prof. Ichioka emphasized the importance of using both Japanese- and
      English language sources to recover what he labeled the "buried past"
      of Japanese American history. Over three decades, his extensive
      collaborative work in compiling the JAPANESE AMERICAN RESEARCH
      PROJECT (JARP) COLLECTION at UCLA-the largest and most significant
      historical archive on Japanese Americans in the U.S. His numerous
      articles and books, A Buried Past (1974) and A Buried Past II (1999),
      provided the foundation for the field of Japanese American studies.
      Prof. Ichioka also served on the editorial board of the Amerasia
      Journal, the leading international journal in Asian American Studies.


      In 1971 Prof. Ichioka observed that like the history of many other
      racial minorities in the U.S., "Much of Japanese American history
      remains unwritten." He saw his mission to help write that history,
      which involved "the debunking of old distortions and myths, the
      uncovering of hitherto neglected or unknown facts, and the
      construction of a new interpretation of that past." Because of Yuji
      Ichioka's pioneering scholarship and vision, his dedication to
      teaching, and his commitment to make known the long legacy of working
      peoples' resistance to injustice, new interpretations of the past
      were made possible.


      Prof. Ichioka was not a "scholar in the ivory tower," but throughout
      his life was active with social justice issues. San Francisco civil
      rights attorney Don Tamaki states: "In a modern day 'Alien Land Law'
      dispute in which the San Francisco YWCA claimed sole title to an
      historic building erected in the 1920's in S.F. Japantown (Soko Bukai
      v. the Y.W.C.A of S.F., Sup. Ct. Case No. 269330), Prof. Ichioka
      uncovered a crucial 80-year-old diary proving that the property was
      actually held in trust by the YWCA for the benefit of the Japanese
      American Community, and that the SF YWCA merely held 'paper title' in
      order to circumvent racist laws barring Issei (immigrant Japanese
      Americans) from owning real property. Even during difficult times,
      Yuji selflessly continued to work on this case, volunteering his
      expert historical analysis. Horace Mann once told graduating
      students: 'Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for
      humanity.' Yuji's indomitable spirit answered this calling."


      Recently for his lifetime work in Asian Pacific Labor History,
      Ichioka received the 2002 International Longshoreman and
      Warehouseman's Union (ILWU) Yoneda Award at the annual conference of
      the SOUTHWEST LABOR STUDIES ASSOCIATION.

      The UCLA Asian American Studies Center plans to establish "THE YUJI
      ICHIOKA ENDOWED CHAIR IN SOCIAL JUSTICE STUDIES" to continue the
      activist scholarly work of Prof. Ichioka. Such an Endowed Chair would
      recognize and support the research, teaching, and community service
      activities of leading scholars, who are pursuing research that
      provides new analysis of the significant historic and contemporary
      role of racial, ethnic, and gendered minorities in American life.


      A private family service and a later public memorial, celebrating his
      life and work, will be held. The family requests that any donations
      be made to: "THE YUJI ICHIOKA ENDOWED CHAIR IN SOCIAL JUSTICE
      STUDIES." Please send cards or donations to:

      YUJI ICHIOKA FUND
      c/o UCLA Asian American Studies Center
      P.O. Box 951546, 3230 Campbell Hall
      Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546

      For more information, please contact Don Nakanishi, Director,
      UCLA Asian American Studies Center, (310) 825-2974, or
      dtn@...
      --
      Don T. Nakanishi, Ph.D.
      Director and Professor
      UCLA Asian American Studies Center
      3230 Campbell Hall
      Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546
      phone:310.825.2974
      fax:310.206.9844
      e-mail:dtn@...
      web site for Center: www.sscnet.ucla.edu/aasc


      -------


      Yuji Ichioka, 66; Led Way in Studying Lives of Asian Americans

      By K. CONNIE KANG, TIMES STAFF WRITER
      http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-yuji7sep07.story?coll=la%
      2Dnews%2Dobituaries
      http://modelminority.com/academia/unity.htm
      http://www.isop.ucla.edu/eas/Ichioka.htm
      http://www.bruinwalk.com/professors/profile.asp?ID=2288

      Yuji Ichioka, a UCLA historian and community activist who coined the
      term "Asian American" in the late 1960s to advance the rationale for
      bringing diverse Asian groups together, has died. He was 66.

      Ichioka died Sunday of cancer in Los Angeles.

      A founder of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center in 1969, Ichioka
      was considered by many to be the nation's foremost authority on
      Japanese American history.

      A man of many dimensions, the San Francisco-born scholar was known
      not only for his pursuit of social justice and research to recover
      the "buried past" of the early Japanese settlers, but also for his
      zest for life: playing basketball, eating, drinking and traveling.

      Ichioka mastered Japanese to tackle the original sources of immigrant
      life, such as diaries, letters and old newspapers. His seminal
      work, "Issei: The World of the First Generation Japanese Immigrants,
      1885-1924," won the 1989 U.S. History Book Award of the National
      Assn. for Asian American Studies.

      "Yuji was a complex man who had just a wonderful thirst for life,"
      said Don T. Nakanishi, director of the UCLA Asian American Studies
      Center, the nation's largest facility for Asian American studies
      research. "On one hand, Yuji spent a lot of his time in quiet
      contemplation of going through records [in Japanese] that nobody went
      through, and on the other hand, he loved to interact with people."

      Nakanashi said Ichioka could be "cranky" at times, but at the same
      time was "an incredibly supportive mentor" to many doctoral students,
      professors and scholars.

      Scholars say Ichioka's contributions in compiling the Japanese
      American Research Project Collection at UCLA has made it the nation's
      largest and most significant historical archives on Japanese
      Americans.

      They say his many articles and two of his books, "A Buried Past"
      and "A Buried Past II," provided the foundation for Japanese American
      studies.

      Ichioka was a man ahead of his times.

      In the 1960s, when people of Asian ancestry totaled fewer than 1
      million, compared to nearly 11.9 million in the 2000 census, the idea
      of Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos and Koreans joining together for a
      shared political purpose was unheard of. And the proposition that
      Asians needed to forge an alliance with blacks, Latinos and Native
      Americans to work on a common agenda was even more strange.

      Yet Ichioka created the first inter-ethnic pan-Asian American
      political group. And he coined the term "Asian American" to frame a
      new self-defining political lexicon. Before that, people of Asian
      ancestry were generally called Oriental or Asiatic.

      In 1968, when Black Panther leader Huey Newton was on trial in
      Oakland, charged with killing a police officer, Ichioka marched with
      the members of his newly created Asian American Political Alliance.

      He did not agree with Newton's politics, he told The Times in a 1997
      interview, but he thought Newton, like all citizens, deserved to be
      treated fairly by his government.

      The next year, UCLA established the Asian American Studies Center and
      Ichioka taught the first course.

      His role in creating the academic discipline was a logical outgrowth
      of his commitment to teach histories that weren't part of the
      mainstream curriculum.

      More than 120 years after the first Japanese immigrants came, Ichioka
      stands out as the researcher who documented and analyzed the Japanese
      American experience from the immigrants' perspective.

      He gathered his materials over many years by talking families into
      turning over from their garages and attics dusty trunks and boxes
      left by their ancestors.

      "Yuji loved the people he wrote about," Nakanishi said. "He wanted to
      capture what their life was really like."

      Contrary to the popular view, Asian immigrants weren't docile people
      who only worked hard and kept to themselves, Ichioka once said, but
      instead they fought the injustice of exploitive employers with
      strikes and demonstrations.

      Ichioka's firsthand experience with racism influenced his outlook on
      social justice. His family was interned during World War II. He also
      lived among blacks in Berkeley, and picked fruit alongside Mexicans
      in the Central Valley.

      After undergraduate studies at UCLA, he earned a master's degree at
      UC Berkeley and did graduate work at Columbia, but decided not to
      pursue a doctorate because he thought it was a "waste of time."

      For 33 years, Ichioka was senior researcher at the Asian American
      Studies Center and an adjunct professor in the history department.

      "Yuji was not a scholar in the ivory tower," said San Francisco civil
      rights attorney Don Tamaki.

      In a modern-day "Alien Land Law" dispute in which the San Francisco
      YWCA claimed sole title to a historic building erected in the 1920s
      in the city's Japantown, Ichioka uncovered a crucial 80-year-old
      diary proving that the property was actually held in trust by the
      YWCA for the benefit of the Japanese American community.

      His research showed that the San Francisco YWCA merely held "paper
      title" to circumvent laws barring Asian immigrants from owning real
      estate, Tamaki said.

      "Even during difficult times [after the onset of cancer], Yuji
      selflessly continued to work on the case, volunteering his expert
      historical analysis," he said.

      Emma Gee, Ichioka's wife of more than 25 years, said Ichioka remained
      himself no matter where he went.

      When he was a visiting professor at Tokyo University in 1999, he kept
      a basketball in his office and dribbled in the room. It was an
      unthinkable thing for a respected teacher in Japan.

      In addition to his wife, Ichioka is survived by his mother, Sei, and
      brothers Eddie and Victor, all of the San Francisco Bay Area; and
      sisters Pat S. Traylor of La Jolla and Yowko Richardson of Portland,
      Ore.

      Gee said a public memorial will be held in October. The family
      requests that any donations be made to the Yuji Ichioka Endowed Chair
      in Social Studies at UCLA, c/o UCLA Asian American Studies Center,
      P.O. Box 951546, 3230 Campbell Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546.
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