Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chairs
Bruce Embrey is the co-chair of the Los Angeles based Manzanar Committee. The Manzanar Committee, co-founded in 1970 by his mother the late Sue Kunitomi Embrey, established the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage which led to the creation of the Manzanar National Historic Site in 1992. The 50th Manzanar Pilgrimage was held April, 2019 with more than 2,000 people participating. Bruce has been a community organizer and political consultant. He has worked for immigrant and refugee rights, fair housing and for equal political representation in Chicago and Los Angeles since the 1970s.
Lisa Doi’s family was held at Rohwer, Crystal City, Santa Anita, and Tanforan. She is the fourth generation in her family to make a home in Chicago. There she is the president of JACL Chicago and a member of the Midwest Buddhist Temple. With JACL Chicago, Lisa focuses on youth leadership and identity development and has facilitated several youth-focused pilgrimages to Manzanar, Rohwer, and Jerome. Lisa has also completed MA research on Japanese American residential patterns in Chicago. She is particularly interested in imagination and archives, to make space for Issei voices and stories of those who did not survive their confinement.
Carl Takei is a Yonsei descendant of prisoners held at Tule Lake and Amache, as well as the Department of Justice camp in Bismarck, North Dakota. He lives in New York City and is a senior staff attorney at the National ACLU, where he coordinates police practices litigation and related advocacy work. Previously, Carl conducted litigation and advocacy at the ACLU on prison privatization, immigration detention, and related issues. He is lead author of the 2016 ACLU report Shutting Down the Profiteers: Why and How the Department of Homeland Security Should Stop Using Private Prisons and the 2014 ACLU report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System, and a co-author of the 2016 ACLU/NIJC/DWN report Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention. Carl has testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, testified before a working group of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and briefed members of Congress regarding private prisons and immigration detention.
Writer, activist, and psychotherapist, Satsuki Ina, has spent her professional career seeking to understand the long-term impact of collective and historic trauma. She was born in the Tule Lake Segregation, a maximum security American concentration camp during WWII. She is Professor Emeritus at California State University, Sacramento. She currently provides consultation to organizations and communities addressing collective and intergenerational trauma. She is co-organizer of Tsuru for Solidarity, a grassroots coalition formed to protest current policies that echo and reverberate the racism and hate so resonant of the historical Japanese American incarceration. She has produced two documentary films, Children of the Camps and From A Silk Cocoon.
Stanley Nobuo Shikuma
Stan is a Sansei activist, organizer, artist, and recently retired nurse living in Seattle, WA. His father’s family farmed strawberries in Watsonville, CA before WWII; his older brother was only 4-years old when the family was removed to a concentration camp near Poston, AZ. His mother’s family owned a dry cleaner and laundromat in Shelton, WA when they were sent to the concentration camp at Tule Lake, CA. Stan serves on the boards of the Tule Lake Committee, Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), and Regional Taiko Groups-Seattle (RTG-Seattle). He co-edits the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee & NVC Foundation monthly newsletter; participated in the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) 2019 Delegation to Okinawa as a member of the Seattle Chapter; served as a Unit Rep in the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) before retirement in early 2019, has worked on the North American Taiko Conference for twenty years, and performs regularly with Seattle Kokon Taiko. Stan is organizing the taiko contingent for the National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps.
Duncan Ryuken Williams
Duncan Ryuken Williams is Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of Southern California and Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. Previously, he held the Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism at UC Berkeley and served as the Director of Berkeley’s Center for Japanese Studies. He was also ordained as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in 1993 at Kotakuji Temple (Nagano, Japan). Williams is the author of LA Times Bestseller American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War (Harvard University Press) and The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Sōtō Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan (Princeton University Press) and editor of 7 books including Issei Buddhism in the Americas (U-Illinois Press), American Buddhism (Routledge/Curzon Press), Hapa Japan: History, Identity, and Representations of Mixed Race/Mixed Roots Japanese Peoples (Ito Center/Kaya Press), and Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard University Press).
Michael Ishii is a yonsei living in NYC where he has split his time as a performing artist, organizer and clinician. Michael is the co-leader and co-founder of Tsuru for Solidarity and has been the co-chair of the New York Day of Remembrance Committee for 30 years. He is the chair of the New York Japanese American Oral History Project which received a 2018 JACS Grant, and he is a former president of the JACL, New York Chapter. Michael also serves as a volunteer for the Tule Lake Pilgrimage Committee and sits on the board for the Hudson Valley Park for Study and Reflection. He has written and performed spoken word and performance art pieces related to his family’s incarceration in the WRA camp, Minidoka, exploring themes of remembrance and healing from intergenerational trauma. He studied classical music at the Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School, performing extensively as a french hornist with NYC orchestra and chamber ensembles for 20 years before moving to a career in East Asian medicine. Michael was the clinical chair for the University of Bridgeport Acupuncture Institute and now practices privately in NYC. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate studying Traditional Chinese Medicine with a focus on the ability of five phase nodal sounds to affect blood pressure in humans.
Joy Shigaki is a Yonsei born and raised in Seattle now living in Oakland. Her family was imprisoned at Minidoka in Idaho during WWII. Early exposure to her family and community’s incarceration experience formed her deep commitment to social and racial justice, movement building, and reconciliation work and struggles on the local, national, and global levels. Throughout her career and community life, she has woven together a rich body of experience in community development and organizing, fundraising, capacity building, and civic engagement in the non-profit, government, and faith-based arenas.
Tsuya is a yonsei, mixed heritage Japanese and Chinese American from New York City. Her family was incarcerated in Manzanar and Jerome during World War II. She has served as co-chair for the New York Day of Remembrance Committee for the past 20 years. Tsuya’s grandfather, William Hohri, spearheaded the National Council on Japanese American Redress (NCJAR) class action lawsuit, which sued the U.S. government for $27 billion for injuries suffered as a result of the exclusion and imprisonment of Japanese Americans in WWII U.S. concentration camps. Tsuya works at the New School for Social Research and co-leads communications work for Tsuru For Solidarity.
Tom Ikeda is the founding Executive Director of Densho, a Seattle-based nonprofit that promotes equity and justice by preserving and sharing Japanese American WWII history in digital formats. Tom is a sansei (third generation Japanese American) whose parents and grandparents were incarcerated at Minidoka. In addition to leading the organization over the past 23 years, he has conducted over 250 video-recorded, oral history interviews with Japanese Americans. Tom has received numerous awards for his historical contributions, including the Humanities Washington Award for outstanding achievement in the public humanities, National JACL Japanese American of the Biennium award for Education, Microsoft Alumni Integral Fellows Award, and the Japanese American National Museum Founder’s Award.
Karen L. Ishizuka
Karen L. Ishizuka is a Sansei (third-generation Japanese American) descendant of Ft. Missoula, Camp Livingston, Santa Fe, Santa Anita, Manzanar and Jerome. She curated the exhibit “America’s Concentration Camps: Remembering the Japanese American Experience” for the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), which she helped establish and of which she is now Chief Curator. She authored Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Sixties, Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration and co-edited Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories. And has written and produced documentary films such as Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray, selected for Sundance, and Something Strong Within, featuring home movies made in America’s WWII concentration camps. She received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Diego State University, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently president of the board of the Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation.
Kathy Kojimoto is a sansei whose family members were incarcerated at Tanforan, Santa Anita Race Track and Topaz. Her dad was photographed by Dorothea Lange during the evacuation of Japanese Americans in San Francisco. Her uncle, Isao Tanaka, documented with his camera San Francisco Japantown, marches and demonstrations and Buddhist church gatherings. She was born and raised in San Francisco and currently resides in Oakland. While still in high school, she joined the San Francisco State University student-led strike for the College of Ethnic Studies, and after being accepted at SFSU, continued with supporting the takeover of Alcatraz and ethnic studies related issues. After a long career as a program coordinator of residency and clinical fellowship programs at the UCSF, she has been volunteering as a peer counselor at the UCSF Cancer Resource Center and the Berkeley Women’s Cancer Resource Center for Asian American women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Kathy is a longtime community and political organizer since the late 1960s, from the International Hotel struggle, to protesting against police brutality, and advocating for political prisoners, immigrant and refugee rights.
Aura (Sunada-Matsumura) Newlin is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. A fourth-generation Wyomingite and fourth-generation Japanese American, her heritage involves intertwined stories of imprisonment at Heart Mountain, Tule Lake, and Manzanar; racially-segregated military service; and hardships suffered by Wyoming railroaders who were fired because of their Japanese ancestry. She is Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and a board member for the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Aura actively educates about the contemporary relevance of Japanese American incarceration, and has delivered presentations to multiple courts and judicial organizations around the country.
Lauren Sumida is a social worker and artist originally from the DC area. She is a mixed-heritage, yonsei descendant of survivors of Rohwer and Tule Lake, as well as the Fort Missoula Department of Justice Camp. Currently she works as a community mental health advocate in New York City, where she strives to create safer, healing-centered spaces for young people experiencing poverty, racism, and other forms of trauma and oppression. Through her graduate social work research, she examined Japanese American collective trauma and reimagined her great-grandfather’s archival narrative through art. Her family’s multi-generational incarceration experiences drive her work in healing and community-building through arts and activism, and in centering directly-impacted communities through Tsuru for Solidarity’s work
Nancy Ukai is a sansei whose family members were incarcerated at Tanforan and Topaz. She is project director of the website, “50 Objects/Stories of the American Japanese Incarceration,” a National Park Service JACS grant project. She helped lead a successful social media protest against the Rago auction of the Eaton collection of camp artifacts in 2015 and is researching their provenance as an advisor to the Japanese American National Museum. Her interest in the roots of issei culture deepened during 14 years of living in Japan. She is on the board and is a former co-president of the Berkeley JACL and formerly served on the board of the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund. Childhood memories inform her participation in Tsuru for Solidarity, including working in her father’s grocery in Oakland, California, which donated to the Black Panthers breakfast program, and accompanying her mother to Alcatraz with a group of Japanese American activists who took canned food and water to the Indian occupiers of the island in 1969.
Joy Yamaguchi is a yonsei community organizer with Nikkei Progressives, based in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. She is a descendant of survivors of the Santa Anita Assembly Center and Rohwer, Jerome, and Gila River concentration camps. Their activism is grounded in this family history and they are committed to carrying on a legacy of building resilient communities through transformative justice practices. They graduated from Brown University in 2017 with a B.A. in Ethnic Studies with a focus on public humanities and representations of WWII Nikkei incarceration. Her focus is in museum work that amplifies the struggles and power of marginalized communities.
David Inoue has served as Executive Director for the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) since July 2017. He came to JACL with a background in health care policy and administration, most recently overseeing daily operations and finances for Christ House, a medical shelter for homeless persons in the District of Columbia. He previously focused on health care policy in roles at the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In all the work David has been involved, he has sought to bring his passion for social justice to align with the organizations’ mission. He has also served the District of Columbia as an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner representing 2,000 DC residents. He is a long time resident of the District of Columbia with his wife and two children.
Emi is a Japanese American Multiracial mother and elementary school teacher. She has been passionate about teaching Japanese American history to elementary age children for her 16 years of teaching in Bay Area public schools. She currently serves as the Committee Chair for Tsuru for Solidarity’s Families & Kids Committee. She is a Dharma Teacher at her Buddhist Church, has taught many years in a Japanese American summer program in the Bay Area, and has directed and run after school programs focused on the experiences of Multiracial and Transracially adopted youth. Last year she wrote a document titled, the Bill of Responsibilities for Multiracial People of Color With Light Skin & White Passing Privilege, which was inspired by the work of Dr. Maria PP Root. She is honored to work with a dynamic and dedicated group of individuals to make our collective work to fight injustice intergenerational and inclusive of our children.
Chizu Omori is a survivor of the Poston Camp I. Based in Oakland, California, she is a columnist for the Nichi Bei Weekly and the author of many published articles on the Japanese American incarceration history. She was a named plaintiff in the Hohri class action suit, which went to the Supreme Court in 1983. Chizu co-produced the Emmy award winning documentary Rabbit In the Moon which aired on PBS in 1999. Her overall interest is in fighting racism in America on all fronts.
Natasha Varner is the communications and public engagement director at Densho, the Seattle-based Japanese American history non-profit. She is an activist scholar and writer who has spent over a decade collaborating with Indigenous and Latinx scholars and community members. Her book, La Raza Cosmética: Beauty, Race, and Settler Colonialism in Post-Revolutionary Mexico, is forthcoming fall 2020 from the University of Arizona Press and will appear in their Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies series. Her writing has also appeared with Public Radio International, Jacobin, and Radical History Review. At Densho, she oversees the education program, public events, media engagement, and the organization’s new artist residency program. In that capacity, she has spearheaded conversations about the intersections of Japanese American incarceration and other forms of systemic racism and oppression; the role of art in healing from trauma and advancing justice, and the use of history to combat contemporary civil liberties violations. She can be found on Twitter: @nsvarner and co-managing the Densho account, @DenshoProject.
Holly Yasui is a sansei descendant of prisoners of the Minidoka and Amache WRA camps, also of DoJ detention centers including Fort Missoula, Fort Sill, Camp Livingston and Santa Fe. Since 1993, Holly has lived in Mexico where she worked for various educational and community development organizations and was an international human rights observer in the Zapatista Campamentos por la Paz (Peace Camps). Her father was one of the three Japanese American litigants who challenged military orders at the U.S. Supreme Court during World War II, and she has signed on to various amicus briefs filed since 9/11 by the coram nobis team on racial profiling, discriminatory surveillance, guilt by association and the Muslim Ban. She is co-founder of the Minoru Yasui Legacy Project based in Portland, OR and co-director and executive producer of the documentary film Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice. Her mom’s name was TSURU, but she went by “True” since that was easier for non-Nikkei to pronounce. Holly is happy to be part of the Tsuru group, working on behalf of families and especially children in the immigrant concentration camps.
Robin Goka Huynh
Leslie Ishii is a Los Angeles-based stage director, arts educator, writer, and actor. She is the Founder and Co-Director of the National Cultural Navigation Theatre Project researching and building solidarity for sustainability for artists of color and the theatres and communities they serve. Leslie is also on the board of directors of the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists. She is Yonsei and a descendent of Minidoka Concentration Camp survivor, Marie Ishii, and forced removal survivor, George Ishii, of the Nishitani, Sakamoto, and Ishii families, respectively. Leslie debuted as an actor in Northwest Asian American Theater’s “Breaking The Silence,” which raised legal funds for WWII Evacuation Resister Gordon Hirabayashi’s Supreme Court Case. She has since performed on Broadway, with Penumbra Theatre Company, Theatre Mu, El Teatro Campesino, the American Conservatory Theater, Southcoast Rep, and directed at East West Players and numerous other theatres. Leslie has worked in tv/film and is currently the Interim Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre. She has developed actor training and directing methods for artists of color based in liberation theory.
Linda Sachiko Morris
Linda Sachiko Morris is a yonsei, mixed-heritage descendant of survivors of the Manzanar, Jerome, and Rohwer camps. Originally from the DC/Maryland region, Linda currently lives in New York City. Linda is an attorney and Skadden Fellow at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, where she focuses on dismantling barriers to housing for women of color and survivors of gender-based violence. Previously, Linda worked for several years as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in emergency shelters in Texas and Maryland, and at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Grounded in her own family’s history of trauma and incarceration, Linda is deeply committed to building movements of liberation alongside marginalized communities, and is grateful to be a part of Tsuru For Solidarity.
JJ Ueunten (they/them) is a queer yonsei Japanese and Okinawan, who was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, before moving to the Chicago area almost 20 years ago. They have a massage practice called Blue Turtle Bodywork, and especially love getting to work with queer and trans people of color. They have done community building work in Asian and wider queer and trans people of color communities. In the past few years, they have gotten more involved with the Nikkei community, and currently work as the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Japanese American Service Committee, and are a member of JACL Chicago’s Next Generation Nikkei board.
Alix Mariko Webb, is a yonsei, mixed-heritage, descendant of family incarcerated in Amache and Gila River during World War II. Alix is the Executive Director of Asian Americans United in Philadelphia, PA, and comes to this position having worked for more than two decades locally and nationally with communities organizing for economic justice and human rights. After receiving an echoing green Foundation Fellowship in 1997, Alix worked with welfare and housing rights activists in the National Union of the Homeless. In 2005, Alix co-founded Philadelphia’s Media Mobilizing Project and also worked with the Poverty Initiative/Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary in NYC to co-found its Poverty Scholars Program. Alix’s current role at Asian Americans United brings her to Philadelphia’s North Chinatown and to working in the city’s growing Asian immigrant and refugee communities.