Although 2021 marked the actual 75th anniversary of the inception of the St. Louis chapter of the JACL, we were unable to celebrate it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, we have chosen this year, 2022, as the official year of the commemoration of our chapter.
Throughout the following months we hope to highlight the history, events and some key individuals who have been instrumental in our organization over the years. We want to recognize the enormous effort and dedication it has taken to make this chapter true to the cause of the JACL as well as recognize that which has made our chapter unique.
We are also planning activities that coincide with this recognition of the past as well as bring us up to the present and future of our chapter. We hope you will join us as we celebrate all JACL members and friends throughout these years and beyond.
Prior to 1940, there were few Japanese Americans residing in St. Louis and individuals came for business reasons, others to go to colleges such as Washington University and Saint Louis University, and some came to represent Japan at the World’s Fair in 1904. A few families opened their own businesses like the Tanakas who had to restaurant downtown. Most Japanese Americans, however, arrived here during and after WWII. Individuals like Gyo Obata and Dick Henmi came to Washington University from California to study architecture because they were not allowed to attend West Coast schools. Both graduated from the university and went on to make significant marks in their field.