PBS had a special the other night reprising some of the great performances of Peter, Paul and Mary. Their songs always inspired me. Let me share with you one song, in particular, which I liked:

“If I Had a Hammer” by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays

If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning,

I’d had hammer in the evening, all over this land

I’d hammer out danger, I’d hammer out warning

I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters

All over this land.

If I had a bell, I’d ring it in the morning,

I’d ring it in the evening, all over this land

I’d ring out danger, I’d ring out warning,

I’d ring out love between my brothers and my sisters

All over this land.

If I had a song, I’d sing it in the morning,

I’d sing it in the evening, all over this land

I’d sing out danger, I’d sing out warning

I’d sing out love between my brothers and my sisters

All over this land

Now I have a hammer, and I have a bell

And I have a song to sing, all over this land

It’s a hammer of justice, it’s a bell of freedom

It’s a song about love between my brothers and my sisters

All over this land

Peter, Paul and Mary put to music the social awakening in this country that energized the civil rights movement and the fight for equality for all people, especially those of color, as well as women.

The recent LGBTQ gathering at the JA National Museum was an important achievement in our community. Same-sex marriage in California, as well as gaining the approval by many states, would have been completely unthinkable a few short years ago.

Women today have achieved greater parity with men, which has led to them being more assertive. I wonder if the 18 or so women who have come out making sexual abuse charges against Bill Cosby would have had the self-assurance to have made the charges at the time the alleged incidents occurred those many years ago.

Rep. Mike Honda, in 2007, got HR 121 passed by the House of Representatives, which called for an apology from the Japanese government for implementing the so-called “comfort women” program during its wars in the Pacific. Bear in mind, the House of Representatives has a large staff that thoroughly investigates any bill of this sort before allowing it to be placed before the House for a vote.

Phyllis Kim, a Korean American woman, happened to meet one such former “comfort woman,” and was so taken by the woman’s experience that she immediately took up their cause.

Through her work with the Korean American Forum, the Korean community raised money to erect a monument in Glendale memorializing these women. Objecting to the monument was a group of right-wing Japanese nationals who filed a lawsuit to force the City of Glendale to take the monument down.

Phyllis, through her organization, put together a group of people of mixed ethnicities to appear before the City Council supporting the monument. (After this meeting, I, along with Harold Kameya, president of the San Fernando Valley JACL, as well as Kathy Masaoka and David Monkawa of NCRR spoke in front of the monument on International Women’s Day.) The council voted to retain the monument, and the lawsuit failed.

Let me close with this familiar quote by Martin Luther King. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Phil Shigekuni writes from San Fernando Valley and can be contacted at The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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