Norman Mineta and Linda Iwataki at the Japanese American National Museum in 2018 during a program celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

By MIYA IWATAKI

The NCRR (Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress) is deeply saddened by the loss of Norman Y. Mineta – Cabinet secretary for two administrations, congressman, mayor, and champion for redress and reparations for Japanese Americans. 

The latter was our special relationship with, and fondest memories of him. Congressman Mineta, or “Norm” as he would have you call him, welcomed us — then a young National Coalition for Redress/Reparations in the 1980s — with open arms and an open door to his congressional office. An astute politician, he appreciated the value of an all-volunteer national grassroots organization such as NCRR in a long-term uphill legislative campaign. We were new to Washington, D.C. ways but fiercely committed to fighting for R/R.

Norm displayed a generous spirit helping mentor, refine our legislative strategy, and with his astute mind offered strategic insights throughout the long redress/reparations campaign. After years of waiting, his excited phone call, “The big vote is coming. You/NCRR need to go all out,” sparked the 141-person grassroots lobbying delegation to Washington, D.C. It was life-changing.

Norm Mineta’s commitment to right a wrong, and win justice and reparations for Japanese Americans incarcerated in concentration camps during WWII was deep and personal; and it informed his championing of other causes such as immigration issues.  He was respected and appreciated by other communities; and was seen as accessible and a man of his word.

Today, the country has suffered the loss of an accomplished, justice-minded national leader. The Japanese American community has lost that, and more – a true friend and fighter for our people. Aloha Norm.

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