AN AMERICAN STORY: NORMAN MINETA AND HIS LEGACYDirected by Dianne Fukami
Filmmakers in attendance.
Perhaps, no single person embodies the core values we celebrate during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month more than, Norman Mineta’s life and career accomplishments. The former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Transportation, Mayor of San Jose, and 11-term Congressman, is the subject of director Dianne Fukami’s thoughtful cine-memoir.
An American-born son of Japanese immigrant parents who arrived in the U.S. at the turn of the century, Mineta’s humble beginnings in 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 as an 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, friendship with U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, meeting as 11-year old Boy Scouts.
This personal insight informs Mineta’s natural penchant for consensus building, finding common ground and 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 of 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 U.S. car culture, that sacred object of American ideal of mobility, helping us to transition toward 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
Director: Dianne Fukami
Co-Producer: Dianne Fukami, Debra Nakatomi
Director of Photography: Robin Mortarotti
Editor: Hailey Yang
Composer: Derek Nakamoto
Associate Producer: Amy Watanabe