CAPAC Founder Secretary Norman Y. Mineta
Last month, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Founder Secretary Norman Y. Mineta celebrated his 80th birthday.
APAICS said it is fortunate to have Norm as a guiding force and leader in its organization. He has lead the way in public service for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and continues to be a visionary leader across the country and a role model for generations to come.
“I am very proud to wish a happy birthday to my dear friend and mentor, Norm Mineta,” said Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15), chairman emeritus of CAPAC. “Norm’s unyielding public service throughout the years is an example for not just the AAPI community, but for all Americans as a whole. It was an honor celebrating this special milestone with him, and I wish him a happy birthday and many more to come.”
As a public figure for nearly five decades, Secretary Norman Y. Mineta’s career legacies are unmatched. Mineta was the first minority and first Asian American city council member of San Jose and the first Asian American elected mayor to a major US city. He has served 20 years in Congress where he founded and chaired the bicameral and bipartisan CAPAC.
Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32), chair of CAPAC said, “[w]e came together to wish Norm a happy birthday and thank him for all that he’s done-as a trailblazer, public servant, and founder of CAPAC! As someone who spent part of his childhood in a Japanese internment camp, Norm has shown us throughout his career that we must use these experiences of injustice and discrimination to learn from the past and ensure that history does not repeat itself.”
Norm Mineta always cultivated his own wisdom and strength, especially in times of hardship. During WWII, he and over 10,000 other Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps. Driven by a passion to redefine what it means to be an “American,” leaders within the internment camp formed a troop of the Boy Scouts of America and invited outside troops to a jamboree within the barbed-wire enclosure.
It was there that 12-year-old Norm Mineta met another Boy Scout where together, they learned to tie knots, dig moats, and pitch tents. Decades later, Norm Mineta and his fellow Boy Scout friend, former Sen. Alan K. Simpson (WY), spearheaded the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted repatriation to Japanese American internees of WWII.
In 2000, Norm Mineta became the first Asian American Presidential Cabinet member under the Clinton Administration; and was asked in 2001 to serve under the Bush Administration. After September 11, 2001, then Secretary of Transportation, Mineta understood very well the dangers of racism and profiling against Muslim, Arab and Sikh American communities.
Secretary Mineta worked to ensure that these American communities did not experience the same racial profiling from the government as Japanese Americans did during WWII.
Affectionately known by the community as “Norm,” he is the type of person toward whom people gravitate. He calls many high-profile public figures friends and has driven so many, including countless APAICS fellows and interns, to pursue their own dreams. Norm Mineta often credits his family, specifically his father, a leader in the Japanese American community, for his political longevity and his vision for the community.
“As we celebrate and reflect on Norm’s legacy and dedication to the AAPI community, I am inspired by his unmatched work to give voice to the AAPI community over the years,” says APAICS board chair Jim Park. “We are grateful for his vision of creating a national AAPI political pipeline when he founded APAICS. Today, a record number of AAPI candidates are serving in elected and appointed office at all levels and in regions we’ve never seen before. He saw the potential for the community, and helped build the foundation for the AAPI leaders today and many generations to come. Thank you Normand Happy Birthday!”
What truly establishes him as a legend of the AAPI community is the seemingly effortless way he calls on AAPIs to use personal experience, stories, and expertise to better the communities. When asked what he wanted to be remembered for in a 2006 interview, Norm Mineta simply stated, “that he got things done for people. He always reminded public leaders that behind every policy and every law debated there were people and communities at stake. Specifically for the AAPI community, Norm has had a mark on so many of our community’s national organizations.”
We thank our APAICS Founder Norm Mineta for continuing to help our community reach its highest potential. Happy 80th birthday to you Norm, and many more joyous years to come!