By David Yamaguchi The North American Post
As has been reported widely, Norman Mineta, former Mayor of San Jose, US congressman and Secretary of Transportation, died May 3 at age 90.
The highest-profile Japanese American politician of recent times, Mineta was frequently photographed with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He most touched the lives of many JA families through his co-sponsorship of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. It led to an apology and monetary reparations to JAs who were incarcerated by the US government during World War II for reasons of race. Mineta is also one of two credited with getting all US planes out of the sky during the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. Notably, reflecting his own life experiences, he stood up to the unequal treatment of Middle Eastern travelers by airlines during the panic-stricken months that followed. Then, he also oversaw the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), making flying in the US safer for passengers.
Age ten at the time of Pearl Harbor, Mineta was himself imprisoned with his parents and siblings at the Heart Mountain Camp, Wyoming. His baseball bat, which he brought to camp, was confiscated as a potential weapon.
Notably, Mineta lived long enough to contribute to the documentation of his life story. Materials available include a book (above), the Mineta Legacy Project, including a documentary film, course content for high school and college students (minetalegacyproject.com), and Densho interviews and documents.