By Jeffrey Moy, VP of Public Affairs
As 2015 begins, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. As I reflect on 2014, I find myself thinking of the continued evolution of JACL, as well as the constants. Our staff underwent changes, with the arrival of several new people, including a new wave of fellows. We also thanked Karen Yoshitomi for over 24 years of outstanding service as she moved on to new ventures. We worked on new initiatives, such as a civic engagement outreach program leading up to the election, and continued to maintain and strengthen existing programs such as the Kakehashi Project and our teacher education workshops. We enjoyed a new level of visibility, with media coverage of our advocacy, our programming and a taste of our culture. And we had another strong convention, with so many of our members and their families enjoying San Jose.
In the months that I have been supporting our president and executive director with communications and policy decisions, we have also dealt with a number of critical social justice issues. As always, we have continued to speak out against racist portrayals of Japanese Americans, whether in the theater or on the news. We worked closely with our partners on a wide range of areas, including marriage equality, voting rights and immigration. We had robust discussions around how to create a more open and accessible Internet, as well as what we can do to reform the justice system and ease the growing racial tension in this country stemming from a number of tragic cases.
In 2015, I expect more of the same: a continued growth in everything we do, while always being mindful and reflective of our past. Although there will assuredly be those in the media who will make ignorant statements, we are also seeing several positive signs, most notably the debut of the first Asian American sitcom in over 20 years. For JACL, we are excited to debut a brand new website. This may not be the first time you have heard this, but I assure you, thanks to the hard work of our board and staff (and my predecessor, Craig Tomiyoshi), we have plans in place to have a new website up and running in the first half of this year. It will be cleaner and more contemporary, as well as easier to use, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months.
With the 50th anniversary of the marches from Selma to Montgomery coming up, we are reminded of how important it is that we continue our work on voting rights as well as our greater legacy as a civil rights organization. At the beginning of this year, I was lucky enough to attend an event where Todd Endo spoke about his experiences in Selma during that time and the impact that work had on his life. In listening to Mr. Endo, it was clear how far we have come in becoming a more equal country, but also how far we have to go, and that in order to make lasting progress, we need to continue to build bridges to other communities. JACL will continue to fight for the rights of all oppressed, standing up for our community with our partners in these great struggles.
I want to close by thanking the staff, interns and volunteers of the JACL and the Pacific Citizen(ITAL) for all of their hard work. It is really remarkable to consider how much we accomplish year after year, regardless of the challenges we are presented with. A special thank you goes to Bill Yoshino and Christine Munteanu in the Chicago office, who do so much great work for this organization and still find the time to support me in my role. I would also thank our members for their comments and questions, as it is critical that we continue an open dialogue as we move forward. Thanks again for your support. I look forward to seeing everyone in Las Vegas at the National Convention.