JACL Seeking Help in Locating Nisei from California Injured in 1965 Alabama Voting Rights Demonstrations

8A-2014-09-1965AlabamaVotingRightsDemonstration

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is asking for assistance in locating a Nisei who lived in Monrovia, California, in 1965, who was injured in violent demonstrations in Montgomery, Alabama. JACL will participate in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery March for voting rights that will take place in Selma, Alabama, in March 2015. JACL would like to include the Nisei Californian in 50th anniversary activities.

In the Spring of 1965, Todd Endo, a student member of JACL, traveled to Selma, Alabama to support the African American struggle for human rights. Endo wrote articles for the Pacific Citizen about his experiences and views on what was happening in Selma after the death of his friend, Rev. Jim Reeb. One article provided information on other Asian Americans who participated in the demonstrations.

Endo wrote that a Nisei student had been injured in a civil rights demonstration in Montgomery. No other identification was provided for the student who came from Monrovia, California. A television news broadcast in Selma spotlighted the Nisei’s involvement in their coverage of the event. At the time, an African American leader commenting on the incident referred to the student as a civil rights support who had come from Japan. The Nisei student clarified he was an American born in California.

The Spokesman Review, a Spokane, Washington, newspaper wrote in their March 17, 1965 issue in an article titled, “Demonstrators Routed by Montgomery Police”, that 8 were hurt by mounted sheriff deputies as a result of a “mixup in police orders”. Under the subtitle, “Five Horses Injured”, the article noted the injured included a Japanese-American college student who was treated at St. Margaret’s Hospital.

JACL would like to recognize the heroism of the unknown Nisei. White spectators were heard to comment, “Look, even the Japs are here.”

Among other Asian Americans in Selma during the demonstrations was Rev. Andrew Otani, an Issei Episcopalian priest from Minneapolis. His Issei congregation supported and financed his participation in the Selma crisis. There were also three Chinese American students in Selma.

Anyone with information about the unknown Nisei should contact Priscilla Ouchida, Executive Director of JACL, at 202-223-1240 or [email protected]

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