Honoring a Leader
- Honoring a Community Uniting


Mayor Johnson proclaims October 16th
Michael Yoshii Day

October 16, 2004 --
Rev. Michael Yoshii More than 230 people gathered for dinner at the O-Club in Alameda to celebrate and honor Rev. Yoshii and his Buena Vista Methodist congregation for years of successful commitment to the cause of human rights.

On July 4th weekend of this year the annual conference of the National Education Association honored Reverend Michael Yoshii of Alameda as a crusader for justice for all people. (Click here to read about the NEA award.)

Getchen Lipow who taught in the Alameda school system for 34 years felt that Rev. Yoshii's contribution should also be recognized locally. She organized a gala dinner at the O-Club to create a joyous and meaningful event she felt would give voice to the many groups that Rev. Yoshii and his church support in their struggles for social justice.

The O-Club dinner hall can host about 240 people if a few eat in the cloak closet. Fortunately, no one was left out Honoring Rev. Yoshii at the O-Club in Alameda as 230 people filled the main hall with noisy chatter, greetings, speeches of recognition for work well done, and round after round of hearty applause for a social champion, Rev. Michael Yoshii. In accepting the honors, he deferred recognition and pointed to members of his church, many in the audience, as the real award recipients.

The program for the evening said of Rev. Yoshii:

    A third-generation Japanese American (a Sansei), Rev. Yoshii has organized and spoken out on a number of issues, such as housing for the poor, racial diversity, and civil liberties violations. Stressing the importance of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds getting to know each other, he initiated discussion forums among Alameda's politicians, businesspersons, and citizens.
    Rev. Yoshii just might be a pragmatic idealist or an ideal pragmatist. A catalyst in initiating school and community programs, he also was instrumental in establishing the Alameda MultiCultural Community Center. The center offers services to the Alameda community ranging from yoga classes for the body and soul to children's art classes, and it is a hub of activities for Alameda's many ethnic cultures.
    Several years ago, Rev. Yoshii worked with community members in lobbying the Alameda School District and the Alameda Board of Education to conduct a diversity audit, which eventually led to the establishment of new hiring goals to increase diversity among the district's workforce. Rev. Yoshii also helped to establish the Organization of Alameda Asians (OAA), which promotes voter registration drives and forums for the Alameda community. He was the convener for the Coalition of Alamedians for Racial Equality (CARE), a community response to racial controversy with the Alameda Police Department. CARE has evolved into a multicultural training program for students to address issues surrounding identity, culture, and racism. Through the Buena Vista Community Institute, new youth projects serving the Asian Pacific population have been developed under his guidance. These include the Asian Pacific Youth Institute, the Asian Pacific Peer Counseling Project, and the SPOT Youth Organization. Because of Rev. Yoshii, many citizens in Alameda have developed a new appreciation for Asian culture, and many Asian students have gained a friend to whom they can come for advice and counsel-someone who can help them to navigate the shoals of a different culture. At the same time, Rev. Yoshii has forged new opportunities for multicultural relationships in a city rapidly changing in its demographic makeup. Always, his message is the same: If we're going to live together, we have to learn to respect each other and appreciate our differences so that we can create a better world together.


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