The effort was led by motion set by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.
By News Desk
“I am proud to lead this proclamation to commemorate Secretary Mineta’s profound legacy, commitment to public service, and advocacy for social justice,” said Supervisor Solis. “He led a life full of sacrifice and service – overcoming great adversity but never forgetting his roots. Secretary Mineta had a profound impact on my life. Not only did he personally encourage members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to run for office, but he inspired countless people of color, including Latinos, to become forces of change. May his resilience continue to inspire hope for generations to come.”
Secretary Norman Mineta was born on November 12, 1931, in San Jose. During World War II, he and his family were among the 120,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated. His family was held at the Santa Anita temporary detention center in Los Angeles and then transferred to Wyoming’s Heart Mountain. Overcoming discrimination and diversity, Secretary Mineta went on to graduate from UC Berkeley and later served for the United States Army during the Korean War as an intelligence officer. In 1967, he joined the San Jose City Council, and in 1971, he was elected San Jose’s mayor, making him the first Asian American mayor of a major U.S. City.
Secretary Mineta served in the House of Representatives for 22 years. He was part of, and often chaired, many key Congressional committees including Public Works and Transportation Committee, Post Office and Civil Service Committee, Budget Committee, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Science and Technology Committee. During that time, he also founded and chaired the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. While serving as a member of Congress, Secretary Mineta led the movement to secure reparations for Japanese Americans with the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which gave redress to each survivor of the American internment camps and included the long-awaited apology from the Federal government.
Secretary Mineta was the first Asian American appointed to a Presidential Cabinet, serving two U.S. Presidents. He was appointed as Secretary of Commerce by President Bill Clinton in 2000. He was also appointed as Secretary of Transportation by President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, where he would oversee aviation security during 9/11. President Bush would go on to recognize Secretary Mineta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian award, in 2006.
In Los Angeles County, Secretary Mineta served in many capacities for the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). He served on JANM’s Board of Governors from 1988 to 1995 and served as the Chair for the Board of Governors from 2010 to 2015. He also was a member of JANM’s Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2022, serving as Chair for the Board of Trustees in 2015.
On Friday, January 26, 2024, JANM will dedicate its historic plaza in Little Tokyo in honor of former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. From that day forward it will be known as the Norman Y. Mineta Democracy Plaza.
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