A Tribute to Jerry Enomoto

On Saturday, March 5,  a memorial was held at the Grand Ballroom in Sacramento to acknowledge the passing of civil rights champion Jerry Enomoto. Jerry, a former internee at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, died on January 17, 2016, at the age of 89.

As a Japanese-America living on the West Coast, Jerry’s life changed virtually overnight when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. At the time, he was an honor student, close to graduating from San Francisco’s Lowell High School. Because his father was in Japan at the time, Jerry became the head of his family, helping his mother and sister navigate the challenges of internment. He was determined to keep moving forward, and, in fact, graduated as class valedictorian of his Tule lake high school class.

After the war, Jerry joined the California Department of Corrections, where he was appointed the first Asian American prison warden. He went on to serve as director of the Department of Corrections for six years, and in 1994 received a presidential appointment as U.S. Marshal of the Eastern District of California.

Image from TOR WWII Interview Archives

We feel very fortunate to have interviewed Jerry several years ago. The interview was especially memorable, not only for Jerry’s story, but also by the fact that he was joined by his wife, Dr. Dorothy Stevens Enomoto, the first African American woman to manage a California Department of Corrections Institution. We hope Jerry Enomoto’s Time of Remembrance interview will serve as a tribute to his life-long commitment to community activism.

To hear community members speak about the courage, integrity and legacy of Jerry Enomoto, we encourage you to listen to Capital Public Radio’s Beth Ruyak’s podcast: Remembering Civil Rights Pioneer Jiro “Jerry” Enomoto.

Image from TOR WWII Interview Archives

Gail and Kathleen
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