A Documentary Film

May Namba's life has chronicled many of life's hardest and most cherished aspects: war, incarceration, freedom, discrimination, love, family, generosity, patriotism and perseverance. This short documentary will humanize the Japanese American WWII experience as well as capture May's inspirational story.

May at the Minidoka Honor Roll, 2014

An a-MAY-zing Story

Miyako Namba takes us through the story of her Grandmother, May Namba’s life. Incarceration and an incredible spirit of resilience mold May’s life. 

May was born in 1922 to an Issei couple from Japan. She grew up in Seattle and took a job after high school with the Seattle School District as a clerk. In 1942, she was forced to resign by the school district because of a parental out-cry against Japanese American women working around the children. The fear was that one of the clerks might poison the students.

Shortly after, all people with Japanese ancestry on the west coast were sent to incarceration camps, per Presidential Proclamation 9066. She was sent to Minidoka in southern Idaho. The bombing of Pearl Harbor had our country under heightened paranoia. These formative years behind barbed wire would spark a life of activism and service.

May involved herself with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a civil rights organization. In 2001, after 911, May became part of a sub-committee that put on programing in various languages to explain the Bill of Rights and how to interact positively with an FBI agent to immigrants. In 2003, May was a leader in restarting the pilgrimages back to Minidoka. Over the years, she also mentored many people, including myself. 

Miyako follows May’s journey by going to the former incarceration camp, making a mattress of hay and visiting many of the locations that shaped May’s life. This story is one of patriotism, resilience, perseverance, and leadership. I'm honored that May agreed to let me into her life, so that I can capture her journey in film.

May and Miya on a Minidoka Pilgrimage busl, 2014

Thanks to Artswave for their generous Truth + Reconciliation Grant. 

Please accept a big thank you to everyone who is making this film possible!
The funders listed below pledged $25 or more.