AN AMERICAN STORY: NORMAN MINETA AND HIS LEGACY

Directed by Dianne Fukami

Filmmakers in attendance.

Perhaps, no one person embody all the core values we celebrate during Asian Pacific Heritage Month more than that of Norman Mineta’s life and times. The former US Secretary of Transportation, Mayor of San Jose, and the first Asian American politician on the world stage gets his just dues in director Dianne Fukami’s thoughtful cine-memoir.

The American-born son of a Japanese immigrant family that landed in the States at the turn of the century, Mineta’s humble beginnings in the dust bowl of pre-Silicon Valley to his meteoric rise to the highest echelons of American government take us on a vaunted tour of both professional and personal achievement punctuated by key historical events where he takes on roles of eyewitness, oral historian, and survivor. After Pearl Harbor as Japanese Americans on the West Coast were hauled off as enemy aliens to internment camps, Mineta passed seminal years of his youth at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where he forged a lifelong, bipartisan friendship with US senator Alan Simpson after meeting as boy scouts.

This personal insight informs Mineta’s natural penchant for reaching across the aisle, whether party or race, and trailblazing important collaborations between seemingly disparate individuals, groups, and communities that have affected governmental policy and the law of the land. Whether as an ad hoc architect behind pro-tech initiatives as mayor to his congressional leadership backing the Redress Movement which led to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, a formal apology of wrongdoing to the Japanese American community for race-based discrimination, he, in the words of President George W. Bush, was an invaluable counsel during the difficult days following the aftermath of 9/11. By his example, Bush said he mustered up the fortitude to have those conversations necessary to bring polarized communities together in a time of unimaginable tragedy for our nation.

More than a journeyman political figure, Mineta’s tenure as public servant also tremendously impacted US car culture, that sacred object of American ideal of mobility, helping us to transition towards a mindset of public mass transit and environmental conservation we now continue to cultivate. His story offers us an aspirational example of how to be an American and a true patriot. —Lindy Leong

CREDITS
Director: Dianne Fukami
Co-Producer: Dianne Fukami, Debra Nakatomi
Director of Photography: Robin Mortarotti
Editor: Hailey Yang
Composer: Derek Nakamoto
Associate Producer: Amy Watanabe

Dates & Times