Congratulations to the outstanding students who were recently announced as being awarded scholarships from the National JACL. You are to be commended for your past achievements and your efforts to further your education. We hope you will become some of the future leaders of the JACL.
The scholarship applicants were required to write an essay on the following topic provided by the JACL National Youth/Student Council: “The JACL strives to stand in solidarity with other entities and individuals advocating for marginalized communities. Pick an organization that JACL could partner with and detail, in whatever framework you see fit, what that collaboration might look like. What might be the benefits and challenges of this collaboration?”
Some of the organizations the students recommended that the JACL partner with are the Boy Scouts of America, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity or Im4HumanIntegrity, J-SEI, Muslim Community and American Muslim Organizations such as CAIR, Refugee Woman’s Alliance, Days for Girls International, INCIGHT, Colorado Asian/Pacific Islander Leadership Conference, NAACP, Pennies for the Planet, Special Olympics, EastWest Players, Japantown Communities and Japanese American Museums, organizations that provide community services for recently arrived immigrants, Intergenerational collaboration, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Japanese American small business owners, LatinX communities, Hawaiian Legal Corporation, American Film Institute, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), youth organizations, and tribal communities.
Cameron Sueoka mentioned the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights (LCCR) and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), as well as the need to continue with the coalitions working on civil rights for all. The National JACL was one of the founding organizations for LCCR and is active in NCAPA along with working with other groups on common goals.
All of the organizations and groups recommended by the students are worthy of collaboration with the JACL. While the National JACL and local chapters of the JACL currently work with some of these organizations, it would be possible for chapters to work with groups in their own communities to provide service or fellowship with others with similar interests. The students who recommended the various groups could take a leadership role in making collaborations happen.
The Issei generation, the first generation of immigrants to the United States from Japan, placed a high value on education. The Issei’s were not from the upper class in Japan, but those who came first to the United States were generally laborers trying to improve their lives by coming to the “Land of Opportunity,” where they could earn money and get to a better situation in their lives.
Although most of them were not well educated themselves, they encouraged their children and grandchildren to pursue higher education and college degrees. These were likely the great-grandparents of our scholarship recipients. They would be proud of all our JACL students and youth.
Involvement with other groups can help our membership numbers as the JACL needs to work on increasing membership in order to continue as a viable civil rights organization. Decades ago, Mike Masaoka, an early leader in the JACL, envisioned the JACL membership growing to more than 50,000.
We have a long way to go. The potential is there if we work hard on membership by finding people who are interested in the goals of the JACL. Everyone has friends and family who could benefit by joining the JACL.
Students and all members of the JACL can help to build up membership. Scholarship recipients are a good group to begin to work more diligently in helping the JACL to increase membership. Chapters are asked to seek out former JACL scholarship recipients and invite them to renew their memberships if they are not currently members. These outstanding young people are the future of the JACL.
Floyd Mori is the Mount Olympus JACL Chapter Membership Chair.