Twenty-five years ago today (May 25, 1989), a widely watched three-year multi-racial struggle involving thousands of supporters came to a successful end with the granting of tenure to Don Nakanishi at UCLA. Prominent civil rights attorney Dale Minami led the legal fight, Dale Shimasaki coordinated the legislative advocacy, and Glenn Omatsu and many others organized student and grassroots support.
The fight for Nakanishi’s tenure is widely regarded as a “landmark movement in academia,” and has been taught nationally as an important case study for student-community mobilization. A year after gaining tenure, Nakanishi was appointed Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and helped to develop it as the largest and most prominent program of its kind.
Nakanishi retired in 2009 after 20 years as the Center Director and 35 years as a professor at UCLA.
In the video below, he speaks on May 20, 2010, about his writings and Asian American politics at a gathering celebrating the UCLA Asian American Studies Center 40th anniversary.