I’m (un)Officially Renaming Frank Ogawa Plaza as Frank Ogawa Plaza

I support Occupy Oakland. I don’t know where its heading and I think there needs to be more clear asks and less violence, but how can you not support a movement that brings together the 99% to rally on a daily basis. It at least keeps our urban core relevant and keeps news away from the Republican presidential nomination clusterfuck going on (not to mention the latest Tea Party protest). What I don’t agree with is how the Occupy Oakland folks have decided to (un)officially rename Frank Ogawa Plaza as Oscar Grant Plaza. And I’m completely in the Fuck the OPD camp with the Oscar Grant protestors. But if you want to diversify your folks, maybe you shouldn’t step over the legacy of a Japanese American Oakland native from the Civil Rights Movement. It reaffirms all the criticism the OWS movement has been receiving over the¬†disproportionate¬†amount of white folks at the protests despite the fact that the people most affected by the banks have been people of color. So in the spirit of not talking shit and actually providing answers, I’d like to suggest the following name for the Occupy Oakland camp: Oscar Grant Occupies Oakland at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Is that a little too Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for you? I tried. Can’t please them all.

And for folks who need a little reminding, a brief bio on Frank H. Ogawa from his Congressional Tribute:

Frank Ogawa was a remarkable person because he could take personal
misfortune and turn it into a positive learning experience for himself
and others. When Frank and Grace Ogawa were forced to sell their
belongings and live in interment camps during World War II, they had to
sleep on straw mattresses in horse stalls for six months before being
shipped to a camp in Utah to spend another 3 1/2 years in confinement.
Despite this mistreatment and injustice, he never lost faith in the
United States. Just the opposite–he strived to prove his loyalty to
his country and became an internationally recognized champion of Asian-
Americans in the process.

After World War II, Frank Ogawa returned to Oakland and succeeded in
breaking a series of social and racial barriers. When local residents
objected to him moving into an exclusive neighborhood, he responded by
becoming an integral part of their community and joining a host of
previously all-white organizations like the Rotary Club.
Having served 5 years on the Oakland Parks Commission, Frank Ogawa
was elected to the city council in 1966, making him the first Japanese-
American to hold a council seat in a major city in the continental
United States. He held that position for 28 years until his passing–
the longest tenure in Oakland’s history.

From his council seat, he earned a reputation as an even-handed
leader who worked diligently to improve cultural awareness, enhance
Oakland’s economy, expand its port facilities, and establish relations
between Oakland and other countries, especially Japan. In fact, Frank
Ogawa was largely responsible for establishing a sister city
relationship between Oakland and Fukuoka, Japan.

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6 thoughts on “I’m (un)Officially Renaming Frank Ogawa Plaza as Frank Ogawa Plaza

  1. Are you familiar with who Oscar Grant is? I did some reading on Frank Ogawa….and what a man!! With the absolute most respect to him and his accomplishments….I agree it was wroong to rename the plaza. However….please do some research and have some respect for an innocent life stolen….which by the way occupiers renaming the plaza from a Japanese American to an African American so it does not correlate wiith the higher numbers of cacasian occupiers present…..no….they shouldn’t attempt to rename the plaza, of course….but it’d be great to see the city of Oakland do something too honor Oscar Grant and give hope for all those of us that follow.

    • That’s a very good question. I would assume he would support it. But this brings up the question of whether Oscar Grant would support his named being used for a movement he was never really a part of. Frank Ogawa chose to be a part of the Civil Rights movement. Oscar Grant was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  2. I don’t agree with this, and hate the fact that people try to make OSCAR GRANT some hero. HE DID NOTHING! He just happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time. He had a criminal record…what is wrong with people? Frank Ogawa would never support this, and neither would anyone else who knew the history of Oscar Grant. Frank didn’t go against the USA…instead he worked with the gov to better it. So call it what you want, but it’s such an disarespectful thing to his family.

  3. The shooting of Oscar Grant was wrong. It was a crime and an abuse of power by the police. But I fail to see how that turns Oscar Grant into a hero. Oscar Grant had multiple prior felony convictions, including selling narcotics.

    This is not a question of race or whether the plaza should be named after an Asian-American or African-American. It is a question of common sense, and whether you want to name the plaza after a community activist or a drug leader.

    This is not to mention there are many African-American activists in Oakland who deserve the honor, or if you want to name it after a crime victim I’m sure there are many more innocent than Oscar Grant.

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