The Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) recently had its 90th annual banquet. That’s right — 90th! It’s a number that no other Asian American organization can lay claim to. Notably, the Seattle chapter was actually conceived before the greater JACL, which was formed in 1929.
In 1921, a group of youth Nisei in Seattle formed the Seattle Progressive Citizens’ League, paving the way for the formation of JACL.
JACL was created to protect the rights of Japanese Americans, during a time when those of Japanese ancestry were widely discriminated against. It spearheaded the campaign for redress from the U.S. Congress for the internment of Japanese Americans with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Over the years, it has fought for the civil rights not only of Japanese Americans, but of all people of color.
Throughout its history, the organization has been known for being vocal in its stances against injustice. It’s been frankly brave, often at the forefront when it comes to standing up for the disadvantaged.
After 9/11, JACL was one of the first institutions to condemn the discrimination against Muslim Americans. As early as 1994, JACL was the first national civil rights organization to publicly stand up for the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Let’s not forget JACL’s role in our community. Let’s do our best to follow its example and lead in providing our communities the greatest amount of empathy. (end)