Researcher for PBS Series Looking for 1950s-60s A’ala Park Photos

Gena Hamamoto, archival researcher on a forthcoming 5-part PBS series on the history of Asian Americans, is looking for photos of A’ala Park in the 1950s-60s. She’s also interested in photos or footage of Chinatown during the ‘50s-60s, or even home movies during that era.  The series is co-produced by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), WETA and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with Series Producer Renee Tajima-Peña.

Gena contacted Liuchiuan when she came across Rodney Inefuku’s “An Aala Street Story,” which includes historic photos of A’ala Park.

Gena Hamamoto, Patsy Takemoto Mink, and Emme Tomimbang Burns.

Gena is the director of  Typhoon of Steel (2013), a short community-based documentary film that explores the lives of two Okinawan American Kibei Nisei, Frank Seiyu Higashi and Takejiro Higa, who served in the U.S. military as linguists in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

“I would greatly appreciate it,” says Gena, “if you would reach out to your network regarding photos (or video/film footage would be amazing!) of A’ala Park in the 1950s-60s. To give you a little more context, one of the stories we’re working on is about Patsy Mink and Emme Tomimbang Burns. Emme was a young girl when she saw Mink campaigning in the park. So any photos of it during that era would be great, but we’d be thrilled to find any photos of political rallies, Mink campaigns, or people gathering in the park during that era.”

More from Rafu Shimpo (17 Jan. 2019): “Gena Hamamoto is a filmmaker and media arts educator. Her credits range from mainstream productions like ‘GLOW’ and ‘iZombie’ to notable independent documentaries such as ‘No Más Bebés’ and Asian American festival favorites like ‘The Crumbles.’ As an educator, the California-born Yonsei has worked with incarcerated youth, immigrant communities, and senior citizens. She also worked as assistant director for the UCLA Center for Ethno Communications program. A short trip to Okinawa sparked an interest in the Okinawan side of her family and she chose World War II’s Battle of Okinawa as the focus for her UCLA thesis project. Titled ‘Typhoon of Steel,’ the 19-minute documentary recalls the experiences of Frank Seiyu Higashi and Takejiro Higa, two Nisei who served as U.S. military linguists during the devastating campaign in their parents’ home islands.”

If you can help or provide leads, please contact Gena ( or post a comment in the discussion forum attached to this post.

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