Action Alert Invites Petition Signatures for July 19 Public Hearing
Release by the Japanese American Citizens League
There is a street called JAP ROAD in Jefferson County, near Beaumont, Texas.
They say that JAP ROAD is to honor the contributions of the Japanese immigrants who settled in the area.
We say it’s a DISGRACE.
Local history tells us that approximately 100 years ago, Japanese immigrants arrived in Texas and some settled in the Beaumont area. They developed and farmed the land, and made Texas a rice-producing state. They built schools and churches, contributed to the local community and became part of it. The street is reputedly named to honor those pioneers, but the Japanese American community hardly feels honored.
In 1993, local Japanese American residents began a campaign to have the name changed but other local residents refused. They learned that the power to change the name rested solely and squarely with the County Commissioners, so they appealed to them. But the Jefferson County Commissioners deferred to the preferences of the local residents who continued to claim that “Jap Road” was not a racial slur but that it honored a Japanese family, the Mayumis, who once lived on that road.
We say it’s an OUTRAGE.
Throughout the years, hundreds of letters were sent — including letters from U.S. Senators and Congressmen (from Texas and other states) — and pleas were made for the County Commissioners to change the name, but the affront remains.
On July 28, 1986, the U.S. Congress passed Congressional Resolution 290 which stated that the term “Jap” is racially offensive, and that term is prohibited for use on any federally-owned land or building. But in Beaumont, the slur remains.
Earlier this year, the veterans of the Texas “Lost Battalion” (the 36th Texas Division) wrote the Commissioners in both Jefferson and Orange Counties (TX) urging them to change the names of “Jap Road” and “Jap Lane” to honor the all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team who defied the odds and sacrificed life and limb to rescue them during WWII. But the disgrace remains.
Finally some action. All interested parties have been invited to address the Commissioners Court on Monday, July 19, in Beaumont, Texas, to voice their opinions on why “Jap Road” should be renamed. Many concerned citizens will attend this meeting, and we would like to show the Commissioners that in addition to the local community who urges the name change, there is also national support.
“Jap Road” dishonors the memory of the Japanese Americans who lived there, fought for our country, and helped to build the community. Please lend your voice to the outrage and urge the Commissioners to change this shameful name.
Please sign the petition – available until July 18 — which will be presented at the July 19 meeting. Visit http://www.petitiononline.com/NOJapRd/petition.html to support this effort.