JACL mourns the passing of Congressman Mark Takai. We are grateful for Rep. Takai's support for issues affecting the Asian American Pacific Islander communities.
In 2015, during the 50th anniversary commemoration of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, a group of JACL youth gathered in Selma to be part of the re-enactment of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. During the ceremonies, Rep. Takai took the time to meet with the JACL youth delegation to relate the story of how Dr. Martin Luther King and others came to wear leis during the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. The presence of the leis affirmed the participation of Asian Americans in this important civil rights milestone, and it conveyed the message of peace and brotherhood during those tumultuous times.
We are grateful for the way Rep. Takai inspired our youth and provided reflection for imagining a brighter future.
More on Takai:
Takai was first elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives in 1994, representing the 34th house district of Pearl City, near Pearl Harbor. He won re-election eight more times before shifting to represent the 33rd house district of Aiea in 2012. Takai was Chairman of the House Committee on Culture and the Arts between 1997 and 2000. He also served as Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education (1995–2002) and as Chairman in 2003–2004. Additionally, he was the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts. During the 2005 and 2006 sessions, Takai served as Vice Speaker of the House. Takai left his 20-year tenure as a state representative to become the Democratic nominee for the United States House of Representatives for Hawaii's 1st congressional district in the 2014 elections, following incumbent Colleen Hanabusa's decision to run for the United States Senate. He won the election with 51.2% of the vote, defeating Republican former Congressman Charles Djou. In November 2015, he introduced the Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act, extending federal compensation to those made sick by involvement in cleanup operations after bomb tests on Pacific islands.