Meet Our Board: John Tobe

The JACL-DC chapter is happy to present the third post in our new blog series, Meet Our Board. As a way to introduce you to our 2017 board members, this series will feature posts from members throughout the year. Past posts include one by our youngest board member, Christie Mori, as well as one by at-large member, Craig Shimizu. Be sure to keep checking back for future posts from these individuals who are here to serve the DC chapter. 

Hailing originally from Los Angeles, I’ve lived in the DC area for more than 30 years. I’ve been proud to be a long-standing member of the JACL-DC chapter, and was honored to serve as its president from 2013-2016. While still serving on the DC chapter board, I’ve expanded my role to include chairing the 2017 JACL Convention which will be held here in Washington DC from July 6-9.

Supporting JACL and attending the convention is personal to me because my father and his family were among the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II.  Not only did his family lose their small family business, but they lost their home, and they almost lost hope. The JACL’s mission of fighting discrimination, educating the public, and continuously fighting for and protecting civil rights is incredibly important to me and my family.

This is a particularly historic convention as we mark the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. One of the highlights of this convention is a private reception at the Smithsonian American History Museum where one can view the actual Executive Order 9066, which is part of the acclaimed “Righting a Wrong” exhibit showcasing the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Another highlight will be an exclusive reception hosted by the Embassy of Japan at the Ambassador’s residence. At this reception, we will be honoring Mr. Wade Henderson, the outgoing president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights with the prestigious Governor Ralph L. Carr Courage Award for his lifetime of service in support of civil rights.

During the convention, there will also be sessions and workshops related to civil rights, US-Japan relations, identity, and portrayals of APIAs in the media and arts.

I hope that you will be able to join your fellow JACLers and JACL supporters as we mark this important occasion. One of my favorite things about attending the convention is the ability to meet new people from across the United States, Canada, Japan, and internationally. They come from all walks of life and have wide and varied backgrounds. But one of things that bonds all of them together is our deep support of civil and human rights, freedom, and the promotion of democracy. Please join us and add your voice and presence to this worthy endeavor. As the Convention Chair and DC Chapter board member, I look forward to welcoming all of you to the convention for what will be a historic and memorable experience.

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