Sunday, January 1, 2006
U Hawai'i LawProf Chris Kando Iijima died last week. We taught at Western New England College School of Law for three years, where he inspired me as a scholar, as a teacher and as a person. Chris did many things in his too short life. He was one of the first Asian American folk singers, with the trio Yellow Pearl; his group's album A Grain of Sand is still available, and he appeared on the Mike Douglas Show with John Lennon and Yoko Ono on February 15, 1972, singing We are the Children. (Here's Phil Nash's review of a 2000 reunion concert). Also in the 1960s, Chris was a founder of the Asian Americans for Action, one of the first APA advocacy organizations of the modern era of civil rights. Chris appears in the famous Life Magazine photograph of Mark Rudd smoking a cigar with his feet on Columbia President Grayson Kirk's desk during the 1968 strike and occupation; Chris is on the right in the hat, looking out the window for the police, surely not for the first or last time. (Scroll down to "In 1968 Student Radicals Take Over Administration Building at Columbia University.")
As director of the Hawai'i Law School's pre-admission program, he spent his professional career making legal education available to members of historically disadvantaged groups. His scholarship also focussed on historical and contemporary injustices; here's an article he wrote advocating for the rights of Native Hawai'ians. He was widely honored for his work. In December he won the "Keeper of the Flame Award" from the Na Loio Immigrant Rights and Public Interest Legal Center; earlier, he was recognized by the Hawai'i State Bar Association (scroll down). He was also an award-winning classroom teacher. Here, his letter "Why I Dissent" in opposition to the Iraq war (Scroll down); here's an an article about a talk he gave on Internment and its lessons for today. Farewell to a peaceful, courageous, committed man whose integrity and dedication will long be an inspiration. [Jack Chin] UPDATE: There's a memorial service in Hawai'i on January 18th; a radio memorial on WBAI on January 10. Info here.