by Misa Murohashi,
In the early evening of November 2, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the opening of Hirabayashi Place affordable housing and the completion of the Legacy of Justice public art installations. The celebration was hosted by InterIm CDA, developer of Hirabayashi Place. As a nonprofit affordable housing developer, InterIm CDA financed the project through the Seattle Housing Levy and other public housing funds. Hirabayashi Place provides 96 affordable apartment units in the district. Fifteen units are reserved for people who are homeless or are at imminent risk of homelessness. El Centro de la Raza operates the Jose Marti Child Development Center on the ground floor.
The building is named after a local Japanese American civil rights hero, Gordon Hirabayashi. While a student at the University of Washington, Gordon defied the U.S. government’s mass incarceration of Japanese Americans because it was racially discriminatory and violated his rights as a U.S. citizen. Public art installations in and around the building are entitled “Legacy of Justice” and celebrate Gordon’s story and the history of Japanese American community in Seattle. The art installations include Roger Shimomura’s 10’ tall by 8’ wide mural painting depicting “The Life of Gordon Hirabayashi.” The address of 442 S. Main St. was designated for Hirabayashi Place to honor the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team and all Nisei veterans.
The celebration was held in the Donnie Chin community room inside the Hirabayashi Place building. Pictures of Donnie Chin, an International District community hero who was shot and killed in 2015, hang on the wall of the room. Leslie Morishita, project manager of Hirabayashi Place, introduced the community room to attendees, sharing her memories of Chin. Washington State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos made a speech at the celebration. “Gordon’s history is important to remember, and I am so happy that people in InterIm reached out into the community to commemorate his legacy of justice,” Tomiko said.