Video Oral History
Asian American student activist;
Co-founder, Asian Family Affair
Francisco “Frank” Irigon was born in the Philippines in 1947. His father soon joined the U.S. military, and was stationed in Kansas and Germany before ending at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he retired with his family to Tacoma. After attending high school in the Tacoma area, Francisco Irigon served in the U.S. army for three years, then used the GI Bill to attend Tacoma Community College from 1968-69, Seattle Central Community College from 1969-70, and then the University of Washington—first for a BA, then an MSW— from 1970-79.
While in college, Irigon attended anti-war protests and served in ROTC at the same time. He also became increasingly engaged in the radical Asian youth movement: he was the first Asian American to serve on the UW student government (ASUW), served as Vice-Chair of the UW Asian Student Coalition from 1972-5, and was active in the movement to preserve the Chinatown/ International District. In 1972, he co-founded the Seattle-based periodical, Asian Family Affair, served as its co-Editor, and wrote for it during much of its fourteen years of publication.
From 1975 to 1985, he helped create and oversee some of Washington State government’s various affirmative action plans. For the last 20 years, he has had various social service leadership positions related to International District and API issues, most recently serving as Executive Director of Washington Asian Pacific Islander Families Against Substance Abuse. On December 8th, 2005, the Northwest Asian Weekly honored Frank Irigon with its Lifetime Achievement Award. You can read its description of his achievements in the article, "Always Outspoken, Always Frank."
Francisco Irigon agreed to share memories of his activism in the labor and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s in a videotaped interview conducted by Trevor Griffey and Meg Elston on November 24, 2004. Here is an interview summary from this oral history session. To the right are streaming-video excerpts of the interview.