Lawrence “Larry” Y. Matsuda was born in Minidoka Internment Camp in 1945 and grew up in a predominantly Japanese American community near Seattle’s International District. He attended the University of Washington beginning in 1963, earned his BA degree in 1967 and later an MA and Ph.D. He served six years in the Army reserve while finishing his education and beginning a career as an educator.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Matsuda contributed to a number of different campaigns in a growing local Asian movement. While teaching at Sharples Junior High School (now named Aki Kurose Middle School), he created the state’s first Asian American history course. As an active member of the Asian Coalition for Equality (ACE), he was part of a group of students that pushed the University of Washington to create an affirmative action program for Asian Americans. He served on the Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL) committee that created the “Pride and Shame” museum exhibit in 1970. That exhibit helped inspire the Redress Movement that ultimately secured an apology and reparations from the U.S. Congress. And Matsuda was active in the 1972 campaign that elected Washington state’s first Asian American State Legislator, John Eng.
Matsuda’s autobiographical essay, “A Professor, Not a Porter,” in Community and Difference documents his nearly 40 years of professional experience as an Asian American educator. He is currently a Visiting Professor in Seattle University’s College of Education and chair of SU’s Remembrance Garden Committee.
On December 8th, 2005, the _Northwest Asian Weekly_ honored Professor Matsuda with a Lifetime Achievement Award. You can read its description of his achievements in the article: “Past Injustice Drives Matsuda.” We are also pleased to publish his poem, titled “Too Young to Remember Minidoka, Idaho.”
Larry Matsuda agreed to share memories in a videotaped interview conducted by Allison Shephard and Trevor Griffey on November 3, 2005.
Larry Matsuda wrote a regular column for the UW Daily in 1969.Photo courtesy Larry Matsuda.