Georgette Imura, a longtime friend and supporter of APAPA, passed away on Dec. 17th leaving a 45-year legacy of championing the political empowerment of the Asian Pacific Islander Americans and fighting civil rights issues on behalf of all communities being targeted by hate crimes.
Georgette’s political career started in the State Legislature in the 70’s when she was one of the 10 Asian faces among a State Capitol staff of 1200. She unfortunately realized how powerless and impotent the voice of Asian Americans was in the State Capitol at that time. She and a small cadre of legislative staffers took it upon themselves to increase the visibility and voice of Asian Americans by volunteering to educate, recruit and train Asian Americans to run for office, apply for jobs at the State Capitol, and participate in electoral politics.
The Japanese internment experience that her family endured during World War II impacted her deeply and made her realize how government and politics can affect the livelihoods of communities who had no voice. This created a passion in her to make sure the Japanese internment experience will never happen again.
As a result, she did not hesitate to use her influence in politics to fight for all communities who were subject to hate crimes and discrimination which included the African American, LGBTQ, Muslim and Jewish communities to name a few.
Her greatest passion was mentoring the future APIA leaders in politics and public service. She became the co-founder of the Asian Youth Leadership Project which has trained over 2,000 high school youth leaders about politics, leadership and self-esteem managed by APIA legislative staff. She was the founding vice chair of the California API Leg. Caucus Institute and the Capitol Academy which trained over half of the current APIA legislators serving today. She was the Vice Chair of CAPITAL, Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership for many years.
When C.C. Yin started APAPA, Georgette was among those who encouraged C.C. to establish the organization because she saw it as an additional tool to strengthen the voice of Asian Americans. Her tireless, endless commitment to the APIA community and to the civil rights of all communities made her one of the most beloved, respected political APIA figures of our time.
All those who have been touched by Georgette’s friendship and mentorship marveled at her humility for all her accomplishments especially her close friend of 45 years, Maeley Tom who dedicated her book, I am not who you think I Am, to Georgette Imura “whose friendship changed my life, thank you for always being the ‘wind beneath my wings.’”