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Japan & Black LA Initiative: A Conversation with Senator Bradford

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State Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) shared some of his memories of visiting Japan and growing up in Gardena during a discussion at Cal State Dominguez Hills. (Office of Senator Bradford)

On May 14, California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) and the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles co-sponsored an event featuring California State Senator Steven Bradford.

The event was held on the CSUDH campus and included remarks from Bradford and a panel discussion moderated by CSUDH Chair Dr. Thomas A. Parham with Bradford, African Studies Department Chair Dr. Donna Nicol, and Consul General Akira Muto.

In his opening remarks, Bradford shared his childhood experiences visiting Japan, where his grandparents lived, and growing up in Gardena, where Japanese Americans were among his earliest friends. He reflected on the shared history of the African American and Japanese American community in the Southern California region and his experiences bridging the two cultures in his various roles, including as a member of the Gardena City Council and a Senator. of the State of California.

During the roundtable, Parham discussed a variety of topics, including the Japanese Consulate’s Japan & Black LA initiative, Japanese-Black community relations, multi-community relations, and the future of relations between the two communities.

Muto shared the origins of the Japan & Black LA initiative as a partnership with black United Methodist congregations facilitated by California Pacific Conference Western District Superintendent Mark Nakagawa, and the many events that have taken place. place since November 2020.

From right: Consul General Akira Muto, State Senator Steven Bradford, African Studies Department Chair Dr. Donna Nicol, and CSUDH President Dr. Thomas A. Parham. (Courtesy of CSUDH)

Nicol shared his passion for encouraging students to seek connections beyond their own communities to broaden their horizons. All panelists echoed the importance of breaking down barriers to overcome prejudice and increase harmony in society by strengthening dialogue between different ethnic groups.

Panelists discussed potential approaches to developing relationships and the range of opportunities in various sectors, including trade, business development, entertainment and culture. Internships, externships and international travel were also identified as key avenues for developing greater understanding, especially among students and younger generations.

The roundtable was followed by questions from the audience and a networking reception.