Alan Nishio and friends at day of remembrance

Alan Nishio, a founding member of NCRR, was honored at the 2001 Day of Remembrance program on Saturday, February 17, at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo.

For 20 years NCRR has commemorated the February 19, 1942 signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt by hosting a "Day of Remembrance." At 13 of the DORs, a Fighting Spirit Award has been awarded to individuals or groups who have exhibited a strong commitment to the struggle for justice and have shown the fighting spirit necessary to help win redress for the Japanese American community.

Jim Matsuoka, longtime friend of Alan’s and fellow NCRR member, stated in his introduction, "We are extremely fortunate to have someone so dedicated and so talented as Alan working for our community. He is what our Fighting Spirit Award is all about!"

Jim recounted Alan’s history as a dedicated activist as director of UCLA’s early Asian American Studies Program, as a President of the Little Tokyo People’s Rights Organization (LTPRO), which challenged the evictions caused by the redevelopment that took place in Little Tokyo in the 1970’s, and as a founding member and a Co-Chairperson of the National Coalition of Redress/Reparations (now known as Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress) which LTPRO joined as a founding member in 1980 and which was dedicated to obtaining redress for the evacuation and internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast.

As he accepted the award Alan commented, "It’s such a community effort by so many people that it’s always awkward to get an award for an individual. But I’m very honored to join other Fighting Spirit Award winners like Jim Matsuoka, Fred Okrand, Jimmie Omura, Michi Weglyn, the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and many others…It’s an honor to be a part of the redress movement…of a movement for social change, because you realize that collectively you can make a difference."

Alan, a native of Culver City/Venice, currently serves as the Associate Vice President of Student Services at California State University, Long Beach, and is a board member of the Little Tokyo Service Center and LTSC’s Community Development Corporation.

NCRR members submit their choices for the Fighting Spirit Award, and each year the recipient is chosen by vote of the members attending the general meeting.

Parts of this article were excerpted from the Rafu Shimpo newspaper.