Tagawa is one of three Japanese Americans
to join the Black Panther Party.
He was born in an internment camp
(Minidoka) in 1944. After the war, Tagawa’s family lived in public housing projects in Renton Highlands and Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood before moving to Seattle’s Central District.
After graduating from Garfield High School, he joined the U.S. Air Force, eventually serving as a medic in the Travis Air Force Base Psych Ward. While stationed at Travis in 1965 and 1966, Tagawa regularly visited U.C. Berkeley and joined the anti-war movement. He returned to Seattle in 1966, stayed active in the anti-war movement, and, with the encouragement of an old classmate and BPP Minister, Bobby White, joined the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968.
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