OBITUARY: Civil Rights Activist Georgette Imura, 77

SACRAMENTO – Georgette Imura, a longtime Sacramento activist, died on December 17 after a three-year battle with non-small cell lung cancer. She was 77 years old.

Georgette Imura

She was born in Manzanar Concentration Camp in 1943 and moved to Sacramento with her family at the age of 4. She graduated from Sacramento High School.

Imura had a 28-year career in state lawmaking. She was a receptionist for Assembly member Leroy Greene (1967-68), Legislative Secretary to Assembly member Yvonne Brathwaite (1968-72), Legislative Assistant to Assembly member Julian Dixon (1972-78), Chief of Staff to Senator Diane Watson (1978-) 81), Director of Staff of the Democratic California Senate Caucus (1981-85) and Principal Advisor to the California Senate Electoral Committee (1985-87).

From 1987 to 1994 she held various positions in the office of Senate President pro Tempore David Roberti, including Senate Coordinator, Legislative Director and Director of the Office for Islanders’ Affairs in the Asia-Pacific region. From 1995 to 2006 she was the owner of Liberty Consulting, which specialized in government and community relations and coalition development.

Along with her friend Maeley Tom, also a former member of the legislature, Imura was known as an attorney for the Asia-Pacific islander community at the State Capitol at a time when there was little or no API representation under the legislature.

Georgette and Roy Imura at last year’s Sacramento JACL Crab Feed. (Photo by Lorna M. Fong)

Imura served as the first vice chairman of the Asian Pacific Islanders Collective Advocacy and Leadership Council (CAPITAL) and a member of the Japanese American Citizens League and the board of directors of the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project, where she served as president from 2006-2011 .

In 2003 she was named a member of the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Board by Congregation Speaker Herb Wesson. In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the California Commission for the Certification of Teachers.

After retiring in 2006, Imura devoted much of her time to the API community as a volunteer and served on the board of directors of the Legislative Caucus Institute, CAPITAL, and Asian Legal Services Outreach of California’s Asia Pacific Islanders.

Imura has been recognized for its community service by a number of organizations. She received the CAPITAL Foundation Profile of Courage Award and awards from the Chinese American Council of Sacramento, KVIE Public Television, Japanese Culture and Community Center of Northern California, Stonewall Democratic Club, Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center, and Friends of the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

She helped in the reparation campaign, efforts to educate students and the public about the Japan-American war experience, and in preserving the state’s Japantowns in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose.

She is survived by her husband Roy, 77, and sons Todd, 52, and Aaron, 45.

Some memories from her friends:

Member of the Al Muratsuchi Congregation (D-Torrance): “Another great community leader has lost. I first met Georgette Imura when I was in college in the late 1980s, and there were no Asian Americans in California’s law. Georgette, you changed many people’s lives, including mine. Rest in peace.”

Former member of the Mariko Yamada Congregation (D-Davis): “Oh, 2020. Georgette Imura 12/17 and today (12/23) Dean Murakami [professor at American River College]. Thank you for your life in service and sacrifice. Honored by your friendship and support; You will be missed so much. Namu Amida Butsu.

Ronald Wakabayashi, former National Director, JACL; Former Regional Director of Justice Department Community Relations Service: “Georgette Imura passed away last night. It is very sad to lose her and Rose Ochi in the same week. Georgette and Maeley Tom have been the dynamic duo of the California-Asian American community since the 1970s. The two inseparable friends transformed California law and pioneered an Asian-American presence that brought the community into state government.

“We had a Zoom call to celebrate her last birthday. Everyone on the phone was initially concerned. We knew Georgette was very sick, but this was a birthday occasion. What and how they say felt complex. She recognized our discomfort and addressed it and gave us space and space to get involved. It was such a generous act. It was typical of her. We are so happy that Georgette Imura touched our whole life. ** Gassho. ** ”

Paul Igasaki, Past Chairman and Chief Justice, Administrative Review Board, US Department of Labor; Former Chairman and Vice Chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: “Very sad. I met Georgette and Maeley Tom during my days in Sacramento. More than elected officials, the two were the Asian American political voices in California state politics. “

Bill Wong, former member of the Sacramento Planning Commission; former member of the California Commission on APIA Affair; Former Capitol Area Committee Member: “One of my favorite quotes from Georgette Imura when she received an award for community service was, ‘I’m not a great shooter. I’m just a little shot that keeps shooting. ‘She was an amazing mentor and friend who embodied a unique and magical blend of wisdom, courage, perseverance, integrity, humility and compassion. She was a fierce advocate of the community and the underprivileged. She always took the time to thoughtfully guide and encourage young employees.

“She set high standards and set a good example. As an intern in the Senate, I said to myself, “When I grow up, I want to be just like Georgette Imura.” Unfortunately, I may never reach that high bar, but in honor of your memory I will do my best to try. “

Keith Umemoto, Democratic Party of California, Democratic National Committee: “Even before one of the dynamic duos in the pink palace with Pro Tem David Roberti, Georgette was one of the few AAPI employees in the Senate and a mover and shaker to whom the community and the Senate are indebted . “

Floyd Mori, Former California MP, Former JACL National President, Former President / CEO,
Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies: “Georgette was one of three Asian American pioneers in California when I was elected in 1975. You, Karen, and Maeley were effective contributors who paved the way for many. We must be so very grateful for Georgette’s dedicated life. Karen Sonoda was an early job for me along with David Takashima. Karen who later worked for [Speaker] Willie Brown died prematurely of cancer. David is still around and has worked for many lawmakers and more recently for [San Francisco] Major Ed Lee.

“It’s hard to imagine that AAPIs were only viewed as professional employees 45 years ago. Many thanks to Georgette for leading the way. “

Dale Shimasaki, former adjutant to meeting speaker Willie Brown; Former Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund: “She was the first person I met when I started working here in Sacramento. Helped me get to know the API community. A true warrior and friend. May you RIP. “

Carole Hayashino, past president of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; Former member of the Marin Community College District Board: “We lost one of our warriors last night. Rest in peace, georgette. Greetings to Roy Imura and family. Okage sama de. “

Joanne Kumamoto, Partner, Kumamoto Associates: “I’m so sorry to hear about Georgette’s death. With the loss of Georgette and Rose [Ochi]The Japanese-American and Asian communities will miss two pioneering leaders. Time to think about your contributions. Personally, I will miss their friendship. “


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