Board Member’s Message by: Jeff Selby
On Friday, October 18, we lost a member of the JACL family. Elaine Reiko Akagi’s lifelong commitments to public education and civil rights were humbling and her passion for JACL was unwavering.
Elaine and I shared a common link—we started our JACL involvement in the Midwest District. She began with the Detroit Junior JACL in 1960 and continued her trek throughout several local, district (Midwest and Pacific Northwest), and national leadership positions with the organization.
In 2010, Elaine funded the "Seattle JACL Elaine R. Akagi Scholarship" to assist students of color who major in special education. Elaine funded the scholarship with her personal savings and directed gifts for her retirement. The Seattle JACL awarded a deserving student the first "Elaine R. Akagi Scholarship" in 2011.
I met Elaine at a Pacific Northwest District board meeting years ago and was comforted that she knew all the JACLers with whom I grew up in Indiana—finally, someone in the organization who acknowledged a JACL presence away from the west coast! As I got to know Elaine, I quickly became impressed with her energy, her wisdom, and her passion.
We are a better, stronger JACL, thanks in part to Elaine’s involvement. We could all use her strength and spirit as a way to stay motivated and remember why we’re part of this organization.
For an all-volunteer group that accomplishes so much to remain successful and focused, we need to remember Elaine’s energy and the commitment of all those other civil rights advocates we’ve lost over the years.
Your involvement in Portland JACL shows that you, like Elaine, care about social justice for all and Nikkei Community matters. If you think you might have more time to give your JACL, please know that your Board would love to hear from you. Your board meets on the third Thursday of every month.
Elaine, we thank you for everything you’ve done for JACL and the civil rights fight in our communities. We miss you dearly.