Ronald Takaki, Rest in Peace


Ronald TakakiAccording to numerous individuals, Prof. Ron Takaki passed away this week. Share your thoughts on Ron’s legacy on Facebook. We’ve lost a giant in the Asian American community. Join with me in wishing his family and friends our condolences.

Considered the father of multicultural studies, Ron was a professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a preeminent scholar on our nation’s diversity.

Over 34 years, Ron taught 20,000 students, and has written twelve books which have influenced thousands more. One of them, “A Different Mirror,” won the American Book Award, and has sold over a half million copies; it is the text for anyone interested in the history — and the future — of multicultural America.

Over ten years ago, Ron Takaki helped then-President Bill Clinton write his major speech on race, “One America in the 21st Century.” A lively speaker himself, Takaki presented a multicultural people’s history of America. His brave reclaiming of the past –through “a different mirror” — does not lead to “the disuniting of America.” Rather, it is essential for the uniting of Americans, today and in the future, with each other and with the rest of the world. In the 21st century, this nation’s racial and ethnic diversity will expand exponentially; by 2060, we will all, in a sense, be minorities. Takaki fostered in audiences a deep understanding of what led us to this point, and what it all means. What led to America becoming so diverse? And how can we incorporate the teaching of diversity into the curriculum for the coming Century?

Born in 1939, Takaki was the grandson of immigrant Japanese plantation workers. In the 1960s, he taught UCLA’s first Black history course. In the 1970s, he began teaching in the newly instituted Department of Ethnic Studies, at UC Berkeley. His comparative approach to the study of race and ethnicity has inspired the B.A. and the Ph.D. program in Comparative Ethnic Studies, as well the school’s multicultural requirement for graduation: the American Cultures Requirement. Takaki was also the author of Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, which was selected by The San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century.

2:18pm: Gina wrote a lovely memorial to her former teacher on Racewire.

2:35pm: A former student and close friend of the family is putting together a message board in Takaki’s honorContact him to contribute.

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