SACRAMENTO — Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston is one of 10 inductees of the California Hall of Fame’s 13th Class.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom inducted the class on Dec. 10 at the California Museum in Sacramento. The Hall of Fame celebrates Californians who embody the state’s spirit of innovation and achievement and have made their mark on history.
“California is a state not just of dreamers, but of doers who pride themselves on being on the leading edge,” said Newsom. “That entrepreneurial spirit and the incredible diversity, daring and perseverance of our beloved state is demonstrated in the lives and the journeys of those honored tonight.”
“These inductees exemplify the beautiful diversity of our state and we are honored to induct them into the California Hall of Fame,” said Siebel Newsom.
Born in 1934 in Inglewood, Houston is best known as co-author of the widely acclaimed book “Farewell to Manzanar,” written with husband James D. Houston and originally published in 1973. Based upon her personal experiences during and after her family’s imprisonment at Manzanar, the memoir was one of the first publications to discuss the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
She also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1976 NBC television adaptation, for which she received the Humanitas Prize and an Emmy Award nomination. The book, which is assigned reading in schools throughout the U.S., has sold over 1 million copies and is now in its 79th printing.
Houston is also the author of three other books, along with numerous essays, articles and reviews often focused on themes of ethnicity and diversity. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from San Jose State University and pursued graduate work at San Francisco State University and at the Sorbonne in France.
In 1984, Houston was one of 14 American women to receive the Wonder Woman Award, an honor given to women over the age of 40 who have made outstanding achievements in the pursuit of truth and positive social change.
Other honors she has received include: Women of Achievement Award, National Women’s Political Caucus, 1979; Carey McWilliams Award, California Studies Association, 2000; Certificate of Commendation for Literature and History, California Senate, Legislature and City of Los Angeles, 2001; Japanese American of the Biennium Award for achievement in arts, literature and communication, Japanese American Citizens League, 2004; Award of Excellence, Japanese American National Museum, 2006.
The other inductees are:
Dr. Maya Angelou, writer, poet, performer and teacher (1928-2014)
Rupaul Andrew Charles, actor, model, singer, songwriter, TV personality and author (born 1960)
Brandi Chastain, athlete and Olympic medalist (born 1968)
Dr. France A. Córdova, astrophysicist (born 1947)
Tony Hawk, skateboarder, entrepreneur and philanthropist (born 1968)
Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., civil rights activist (born 1928)\
George Lopez, actor and comedian (born 1961)
Wolfgang Puck, chef, restaurateur and entrepreneur (born 1949)
Helen M. Turley, winemaker/vintner (born 1943)\
For bios of all of the honorees, visit https://www.californiamuseum.org/13th-class.
Past inductees include George Takei, Bruce Lee, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Amy Tan.