My name is Anna, I am the Minoru Yasui fellow for the second year running, here at the University of Oregon School of Law. The fellowship was established graciously by Bill and Marie Waterman several years ago to honor Minoru Yasui and to continue on his legacy.
This fellowship opportunity was so exciting to me because, as some of you may share this sentiment, I was never able to actually meet Minoru. I was born just 10 years too late to have had the opportunity to cross paths with him. His fight and his work to advance not only Japanese American rights, but civil rights broadly, has brought me where I am today — and for that I am incredibly grateful. Even though Minoru and I are a generation apart, his legacy lives on through his work, his loved ones and those dedicated to his mission.
As a result of that, it impacts people like me every day.
I’m the first generation of my family to be born here and, as a result, I have grown up surrounded by a multitude of different communities. And now, as a law student, I still find myself tuned in to the dynamics of identity and specifically the need to continue the fight that Minoru Yasui fought all those years ago.
We are not done yet. And, even though I never met him, I feel impassioned by Minoru Yasui’s dedication and persistence, and want to pursue the same justice and equality that he fought for. I think we can all find ways in our own lives to honor these values, and in today's climate more than ever, Minoru’s legacy is important to hold on to as a reminder of where to go from here.
Minoru Yasui represents someone who has paved the way for others, a trail blazer if you will. And, to have the opportunity to continue along that path that has been created for me and others is a gift I'm incredibly grateful for. I can’t wait to be a lawyer with inspiration like Minoru. I am grateful to share this day with so many others, both friends and loved ones of Minoru — and those like me who are inspired and seek to continue the fight for justice and uphold the values represented by Minoru Yasui.