Women’s History Month Lecture: Japanese American Women in Philadelphia Social Movements

About the event:

For Women’s History Month, JASGP presents “Japanese American Women in Philadelphia Social Movements” with Teresa Maebori, Paul Uyehara, Miki Rotman, moderated by Loraine Ballard Morrill.

This panel discussion highlights the contributions of Japanese American Women who took a leadership role in restoring Shofuso and founding the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden. The discussion will also encompass their significant contributions to the Redress Movement, which culminated in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and provided a formal apology and monetary reparations to Japanese American incarceration survivors of World War II.

About the Panelists:

Paul M. Uyehara has been an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League for close to thirty years, having served on its national board, the Pacific Citizen Editorial Board, governor of the Eastern District Council, president and board member of the Philadelphia Chapter, and chair of the national constitution and bylaws committee and the resolutions committee.  He also served as a commissioner on the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, which provided civilian oversight of the Philadelphia Police Department, from 1994 to 2003.  Paul was a founding member of Asian Americans United, a board member of the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition, and a member of the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. Paul is a recently retired public interest and public service attorney. From 2008 – 2021, he was a senior attorney in the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section of the U.S. Justice Department, Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., where he focused on enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Previously, he worked for over thirty years in Philadelphia, primarily with Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance.  In addition to some 20 years of experience focused on language access issues for DOJ and CLS, he also handled bankruptcy, foreclosure, landlord/tenant, and family law matters for low-income clients.  He earned a J.D. magna cum laude from the Temple University Beasley School of Law and an A.B. from Oberlin College.

 

Miki Rotman was born in Hawaii in 1942. Her father Saburo was in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the all Japanese American segregated troop regiment that served during WWII. While Saburo was training in Mississippi, Miki and her mom, Louise went to visit him and waited for his return in New York City. Sadly, Saburo was killed somewhere between Italy and Germany. When Louise tried to get back to family in Hawaii – it was not possible – the war was still going with Japan, and troops were returning from Europe. Louise had obtained her master’s degree in Social work at the University of Pennsylvania and had contacts in Philadelphia, so that is where they ended up in 1945. Louise never remarried, and was in social work until she retired in her seventies. She enjoyed traveling and her activities at Shofuso Japanese house and garden, where she played an important leadership role in organizing daily activities at the house. Miki worked as a drafter (in civil engineering) until she retired in 2004. After her husband’s death in 2009, Miki cared for her mom until she died in 2016 at 101 years of age. Throughout her adult life Miki has been a member of Japanese American Citizens League and was involved with many other Asian American advocacy groups.

 

Loraine Ballard Morrill is News Director and Community Affairs Director for the six iHeartMedia PHL radio stations Power 99, WDAS FM, Q102, ALT 104.5, The Breeze 106.1 and Fox Sports Radio Philadelphia 1480 AM, where she hosts and produces Philadelphia’s Community Affairs Programs, “Insight” and “What’s Going On.”  She also coordinates community outreach and campaigns for all the stations. She is Vice Chair of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania and has served on the Boards of The Philadelphia Urban League, The Centers for Literacy, First Person Arts, Philadelphia Committee for Children and Youth and Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, among others.  Loraine currently sits on the boards of PHLDiversity, the Marian Anderson Awards, the PHL250 Task Force, Global Citizen and the READ! By 4th Leadership Committee.  She has received numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission Human Rights Award, Philadelphia NAACP President’s Award, the Philadelphia Association for Black Journalists Community Award, the Achievement in Radio Lifetime Achievement Award, the Harris Wofford Active Citizenship Award, The AIDS Fund Favorite Straight Person, Women Veterans Who Rock Leadership Award, the Penn Center for AIDS Research Legacy Award and Philadelphia Tribune’s Most Influential. Under her direction, Power 99 FM was the first station to receive six prestigious National Association of Broadcasters Crystal Award for Service and the First NAB Crystal Heritage Award the highest award for broadcast community service. In 2021 iHeartMedia Philadelphia was honored as one of the Points of Light Foundation’s Civic 50 for its community service.

 

Teresa Maebori: my life began in Caldwell, Idaho on Feb. 13, 1945. My Nisei parents who had volunteered out of the Tule Lake concentration camp to help harvest sugar beets were sent to Caldwell in 1943. About 6 months after WWII in late 1945 our family returned to Auburn, WA where I grew up. I attended the University of Washington and graduated with a BA in education, history, and English. Out of college I volunteered for the Peace Corps and served two years in Micronesia on Saipan, Marianas. I taught English as a Second Language. When I returned to the U.S. I taught second grade for a year in rural Indiana and then went to graduate school in Washington D.C. where I received my Masters of Arts in Education. I taught 2 years in the inner city if Washington D.C. then 4 years at The Lab School, a school for children with learning disabilities. In 1976 I moved to Philadelphia where I taught a vertical third and fourth grades at Germantown Friends School. I taught there for 36 years. While at GFS, I was able to teach in Japan for 5 months at Tokyo Friends School during a sabbatical. I taught Japan Studies to my third and fourth graders.  Before going to Japan, I had created an exchange between two schools, GFS and HMS, a school for children with cerebral palsy in West Philadelphia. Through eight original musicals written by composer, Andrea Green, we learned about each other and broke barriers of misunderstanding and found our similarities as well as understanding our differences. This musical exchange lasted 30 years. In 2006 I taught in a village school in Kenya, Africa for 5 weeks. This was part of my second sabbatical, and I volunteered to live in a small village and teach English in the Great Rift Valley. These two sabbaticals enhanced my understanding of the two countries and cultures. I had pioneered the Japan and African Studies curriculum in the Lower School at GFS. I began my association with the Japanese American Citizens League in Philadelphia in 1977.  I was chapter president for 2 years. I also served as Eastern District Council governor for 2 terms. During these years the Redress movement was going strong and was passed by Congress in 1988 with President Reagan signing The Civil Rights Act that year. Nationally, I was Education Chairperson and helped organize the national curriculum on the Japanese American experience. Presently, I am on the Philadelphia JACL Board and serve as the recording secretary. Also, for the last 9 years I have been supervising student teachers at Arcadia University.

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