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Fri, 08.01.1919

Mineo Katagiri, activist and minister

Rev. Mineo Katagiri

*Mineo Katagiri was born on this date in 1919. He was a Japanese American activist, minister and strong advocate for civil rights for African and Asians in America.

Born in Haleiwa, Hawaii, he graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1941 and received his theological degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1944.  He was ordained in 1945 and encountered postwar discrimination against Japanese Americans.  He was a minister in several churches in Hawaii and Ohio and also taught at Doshisha University in Kyoto after World War II.  He moved to Seattle in 1959, serving as campus minister for the University of Washington and metropolitan minister for the University Congregational Church.

In 1969, Rev. Katagiri founded the Asian Coalition for Equality (ACE). He also started the First Avenue Service Center on Seattle's homeless and was founding director of the Office of Economic Opportunity for King County. ACE was the first civil rights organization in Seattle whose mission was to mobilize Asian Americans in multi-racial solidarity campaigns and promote Asian American consciousness.  In August and September of 1969, ACE mobilized Asian Americans to participate with Black Contractors in Worker Solidarity.  This was a direct action protests led by the Central Contractors Association that demanded the desegregation of the region's construction industry.  Afterward, ACE activists challenged police repression of the protests.  His work in Washington earned him appointments to the former state Council on Higher Education and the Governor's Advisory Committee on Urban Affairs.

He moved to New York City in 1970 as director of mission priorities for the United Church of Christ. As head of the church's Northern California Conference from 1975 to his retirement in 1984, he helped establish or strengthen churches in ethnic communities, such as the First Filipino-American United Church of Christ in San Bruno. He lived in San Francisco and was a trustee emeritus at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.

Mineo Katagiri was an avid golfer and died Nov. 15, 2005 as a result of a fall on the 18th hole of the San Geronimo Golf Course in Marin County. Rev. Katagiri's career was marked by public service, outreach to ethnic communities and opposition to discrimination based on ethnicity or sexual orientation.  

Reference:
SF Chronicle

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