In the late 1920s, a national organization was formed by Japanese American groups called the Japanese American Citizens League to foster good citizenship and civic participation.
Founded in 1929, the JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States. The JACL monitors and responds to issues that enhance or threaten the civil and human rights of all Americans and implements strategies to effect positive social change, particularly to the Asian Pacific American community.
The Arizona Chapter of JACL was formed in 1934, from property purchased by the Japanese Association for the purpose of building a community hall to serve as a place for social gatherings as well as providing naturalization classes to assist the Issei (the first generation of immigrant Japanese Americans) in obtaining citizenship.
Today, the activities of the Arizona Chapter include a variety of social, educational, and community functions. Chojukai was founded in 1959, a social organization for Japanese Americans over the age of 55, where the Chapter hosts monthly events at the JACL hall. In 1962, the Sara Hutchings Clardy Scholarship Awards was established, recognizing elementary, high school and college graduates. A community building was dedicated in 1977 and the oldest Asian American festival in Arizona, the Matsuri Festival, began in 1984.
In 1997, the Japanese Senior Center came into being, the result of a collaboration between many community organizations and the dedicated work of the late John Kinoshita and Mary Tadano.
The Arizona Chapter is especially active in raising awareness and preserving the history of Japanese Americans in Arizona. In 2002, the Chapter hosted a tribute to the Japanese American flower growers who have served the Phoenix community for more than 60 years, Beginning in 2003, the Chapter collaborated with Arizona State University on the Japanese Americans in Arizona Oral History Project, gathering the stories of the early generations of Japanese Americans who settled in the state. The Chapter also hosted the National JACL Convention in 2006 at Gila River, the site of one of the largest internment camps in the country, and dedicated a memorial to the internees at the Gila River Arts and Crafts Center where a display about the internment and Nisei soldiers is maintained.
In 2009, the Arizona Chapter of the JACL celebrated their 75th Anniversary in the state. The organization will continue to develop as a dynamic group in Arizona, rooted in a strong history, and committed to the future.
From Arizona JACL History, 75th Anniversary Banquet 2009 Brochure
Japanese American Citizens League, Arizona Chapter
1201 West Seldon Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85021
Rights & Reproduction
Copyright to this resource is held by the Japanese American Citizens League in Arizona. To order or use images, contact dfolder[at]cox.net