Saturday, May 24, 2008

Honoring Mr. Kobashigawa

When I started dating Tony in 1995, he was renting a cute little guest house behind Dick and Sumiye Kobashigawa's house in West LA. In fact, just prior to our first date, Tony organized a viewing of Mr. Kobashigawa's home movies, which I attended. In addition to being an activist and a poet, Mr. Kobashigawa was a gardener like many of his generation. Tony once joined him on his gardening route to learn more about Japanese gardening. In 1996, the Kobashigawa's sold their house where they had lived for 50 years and moved to San Francisco.

Here is Tony visiting with the Kobashigawa's at their home in San Francisco in February 1997. Now, 11 years later, the Southern California Library will be honoring Mr. Kobashigawa for his work as an Okinawan American activist. We're looking forward to seeing Mr. Kobashigawa again next weekend.

Celebration honoring Mr. Dick Jiro Kobashigawa
Okinawan American Activist for Peace & Justice

Southern California Library's Wall of Honor

Saturday, May 31, 2 p.m.

With tributes by Professor Ben Kobashigawa of San Francisco State University, Yuko Yamauchi of the Okinawan Association of America, activist and high school teacher Tony Osumi, and Glenn Omatsu of
library's board of directors. Plus cultural/musical performance

Mr. Dick Jiro Kobashigawa is a long-time activist in the Okinawan, Japanese American, and broader progressive movement in Los Angeles. He was born in 1914 in Phoenix, Arizona, and currently lives in San
Francisco. Through Okinawan immigrant organizations from the 1930s to the 1970s, he joined with others to promote peace and justice in the U.S. and Japan, worker rights for immigrants, and political awareness through cultural activities.

From the 1970s till today, he has served as a bridge-builder between generations of older and younger activists, providing leadership in community groups such as Japanese Welfare Rights Organization in Little Tokyo. Mr. Kobashigawa and other leaders of the Okinawan Club of America were instrumental in having the UCLA Asian American Studies Center publish in 1989 an English language version of the book "History of the Okinawans in North America." The volume is one of the few collections of translated primary documents of community organizing activities in an early Asian immigrant community and focuses on the key role of the Okinawan immigrant Left in influencing political development of Asian Americans. Mr. Kobashigawa has also written several short books, including "Hitomebore" (Love at First Sight -- published in both Japanese and English), "Scotland no tabi" (Journey -- published in Japanese), and "Serenity in Gardens," which incorporates some stories about the Issei Left.

The Southern California Library was originally founded by Los Angeles activists in 1963 as an archive to document the history of grassroots movements and in recent years has expanded its mission to serve as a
social justice resource center for movements for peace and justice today. The library's Wall of Honor celebrates the accomplishments of long-time activists. Mr. Kobashigawa will become the 272nd activist
honored on the Wall of Honor.

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