Sharon Maeda’s grandparents were farmers in Oregon’s Hood River valley, and her parents were interned in Minidoka concentration camp during World War II. She was born in Milwaukee, WI in 1945 after her parents had been released from the camps but before they were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest. Sharon grew up in Portland, Oregon until her father accepted a job at Boeing and moved her family to Seattle in 1956.
In 1963, Maeda enrolled at the University of Washington, where she was elected to the ASUW Board of Control and involved in a variety of civil rights and political activities, including Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Maeda taught at McKnight Middle School in Renton for two years before returning to the UW as a graduate student in 1970. She was a student advisor in the early 1970’s and served as Director of the UW’s Ethnic Cultural Center-from 1973-1975.
In addition to her campus-based activism, Maeda served as a board member of the Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League during the mid 1970’s, and was a founding member of Seattle Third World Women.
Maeda began a career in journalism in the mid 1970’s, producing television documentaries and subsequently working in radio, serving as Executive Director for Pacifica Radio from 1980 to 1986. She is currently the President of Spectra Communications— a consulting firm that “works to empower clients to better manage their resources and implement the vision of a just and peaceful, multicultural society.“
Sharon Maeda shared her memories with Trevor Griffey on December 30th, 2005 in the Asian Room of the University of Washington’s Ethnic Cultural Center.
Video editing by Daren Salter. Work on this interview was made possible by a grant from 4Culture/King County Lodging Tax.