By PSW JACL
‘Empowering Our Community: Igniting a Passion for Justice” speaks to all generations of Americans, not only Asians. It is the theme of this year’s 18th annual Pacific Southwest JACL Awards Luncheon, which will be held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 20 beginning at 10:30 a.m.
This year, three trailblazers in the community will be honored, according to luncheon chairperson Nancy Oda.
Riku Matsuda is the recipient of this year’s Governor’s Award. Matsuda, who has worked for the L.A. County Commission in Human Relations since 2004, is currently a senior intergroup relations specialist. He also has worked in areas of youth organization, immigrant/refugee rights, media justice, gender justice and sexual rights, and serves on the advisory board of Leadership Development for Interethnic Relations and the governing board of Gender, Justice L.A. In addition, Matsuda can be heard every Monday evening from 8-8:30 p.m. on Pacifica’s KPFK radio, hosting “Flip the Script.”
Mary Adams Urashima is the recipient of XXX. Urashima, an author, government affairs consultant and freelance writer, has been instrumental as chair of the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force’s fight to preserve the Furuta family’s farm in Huntington Beach, Calif. Her March book “Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach” chronicles the story of the Furuta family, Japanese immigrants who chased the American Dream at the turn of the 20th century. Recently, Historic Wintersburg was selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America.
And this year’s Community Award is being given to API Equality, whose vision is to “celebrate the loves and lives of all people — free from discrimination and injustice.” Founded in 2005, the organization advocates for fairness and equality in the Asian and Pacific Islander and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer communities. In addition, API Equality has been at the forefront of efforts to secure equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, in addition to working on public education, media advocacy and research on other progressive issues, including those that involve discrimination and comprehensive immigration reform.
In the spirit of late civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, PSW commends these awardees for their courage and willingness to listen to their conscience.
Originally published on August 8, 2014