Oral Histories

Interview of Bill Watanabe

Executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center and founder of the Asian Pacific Community Fund.
Mitigating Poverty in the City of Angels: Interviews with Affordable Housing and Social Welfare Activists
Social Movements
Community Activism
Biographical Note:
Executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center and founder of the Asian Pacific Community Fund.
Collings, Jane
Watanabe, Bill
Persons Present:
Watanabe and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Watanabe’s office at the Little Tokyo Service Center in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and principal editor, Center for Oral History Research; B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Watanabe was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the content. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research (COHR) Staff.
3 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents affordable housing activism in the Los Angeles area with particular attention to the work of community development corporations. Additional interviews document the work of social justice activists whose work concerns both the low income housing crisis in the city as well as the ways that income inequality impacts the daily life of the most vulnerable among us.
Early family life in the Manzanar internment camp; The death of a brother at the camp; Watanabe’s parents’ background; Family life after being released from the camp; The role of religion in the family; Education at public school in the San Fernando Valley; Cultural differences between family and community at school; Attends college and studies engineering; Studies abroad in Japan; Considers a career in social work and attends graduate school at UCLA; The racially biased curriculum at the UCLA Masters of Social Work program; Begins work with the Los Angeles Asian American community.
Begins work with the Japanese American community; The powerful influence of religion in Watanabe’s life; Participates in the Agape Fellowship and commune in Echo Park.
The Agape Fellowship; Establishment of the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC); Initiating an affordable housing component at LTSC; The funding climate over the years that the LTSC has been in existence.