Download the Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL Chapter Membership Form:


The JACL’s purpose of fighting for social and political justice for persons of Japanese ancestry has been extended to include all our citizens and legal residents.  The JACL is the oldest and most respected Asian American civil rights organization in the country today.

Since its inception, the JACL has had many success stories—the most significant among them was the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of August 10, 1988.  It provided a Presidential apology and $20,000 reparations to nearly 80,000 surviving persons of Japanese ancestry who were unjustly interned during World War II.  Perhaps you or someone close to you received the fruits of our collaborative efforts.

The JACL also fights to bring justice for the hate crimes committed upon all ethnic groups in our community.  Locally, the issues of racial profiling and prejudice have been raised in the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian and Santa Cruz Sentinel in the form of “letters to the editor.”  Our JACL has responded to all such letters. Remaining silent would be interpreted as acceptance. The JACL is on lookout for any kind of harassment, discrimination or hate crimes that may take place.

Besides civil rights, the JACL works to preserve our cultural heritage and values.  Watsonville-Santa Cruz chapter was the first in the nation to recognize and facilitate the presentation of diplomas to the Nisei graduates of Watsonville High School’s Class of 1942 during the graduation ceremonies on June 12, 1992.  The chapter assisted in the building of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in Washington, D. C., and in 2002, it reenacted the evacuation of 1942 with Liberty Lost … Lessons in Loyalty.  Since then, the chapter has brought the Grateful Crane Ensemble’s Camp Dance: The Music & The Memories for our community’s enjoyment as well as the following significant films: The Bruce Yamashita Story, Visas and Virtue, Day of Independence, Shall We Dance, and Big Drum.

The following are 22 more reasons for belonging to the Watsonville-Santa Cruz Chapter of the JACL:

  1. Our Kee Kitayama Memorial Scholarship, Frank Mito Scholarship and the The Rekiso “Ray” and Hisako “Louise” Sako Scholarships are awarded annually to one or more outstanding graduating high school seniors whose families are members of our JACL.
  2. Sponsorship of the annual Nikkei Community Picnic held at Aptos Village Park, a tradition that dates back nearly a century.
  3. The JACL Senior Center activities program includes bingo, birthday parties, and excursions.
  4. The annual “Day of Remembrance” program, in joint sponsorship with the four other JACL Chapters of the Monterey Bay Region, is held on the last Sunday in February.
  5. Continued recognition of the courage and achievements of the 100th/442nd/MIS veterans during World War II, and the sponsorship and support of those involved in accurately documenting the historical record, such as the outstanding film productions: Honor Bound and Beyond Barbed Wire, the special exhibit in Santa Cruz by the Smithsonian Institution: A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the United States Constitution, and the Honor Roll of local Nisei veterans, and recognition of the Nisei solders who lost their lives during World War II.
  6. Teacher-training workshops have been organized for local public and private educators with support from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
  7. A speaker’s bureau has been established whereby thousands of school children in the Monterey Bay region learn about the unjust internment of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry.  Educational materials on the Japanese-American Experience (the internment) have been provided to teachers as well as elementary, junior high, high school, and university students.
  8. A lending library of books, videos, CD’s, posters, etc. for use in the classroom and for general information regarding the Japanese-American Experience.
  9. Youth activities involving community service, speech contests, etc.
  10. Support of cultural activities such as Kokoro no Gakko (cultural summer school for youth); Watsonville Taiko; Bonsai Club; the Pacific Rim Film Festival and joint-sponsor of the annual Japanese Cultural Fair in Santa Cruz.
  11. Annual Installation/Recognition Luncheon in January.
  12. A Disaster Relief Committee that assisted people affected by the ’89 earthquake, 1996 flooding in the Pajaro Valley, tornadoes, and occasional other local disasters, such as fire, landslides, and acts of vandalism.
  13. Promotion of local member businesses on the Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL website, the Pacific Citizens Holiday Issue, or the chapter’s annual Community Business Directory.
  14. Recognition of accomplishments by local members in publications.
  15. A watchdog for calling attention to acts of discrimination, hate crimes, and injustices against all people and not limited to persons of Japanese American ancestry.
  16. Publication of an excellent, informative, chapter newsletter, spotlighting local issues and concerns. Past issues of the newsletter are also posted on the Chapter’s website.
  17. Assisted in the restoration of the Castroville Japanese School project.
  18. Assisted in the Emmy Award winning production by KTEH-TV, a PBS station, on “Return to the Valley,” the story of our “coming home” in 1945.
  19. Bringing the talents of cartoonist Jack Matsuoka, Poston, Camp II, Block 211 to thousands of fair goers at the Santa Cruz County Fair, in September of 2005.
  20. Building working relationships with the Japanese Community Cultural Center of Northern California and other community-oriented organizations.
  21. Working to preserve the history of Watsonville’s Nihonmachi (Japantown), “For the Sake of the Children.”
  22. The chapter received the “Chapter of the Biennium” in 2004 and 2010.

Your membership in the National JACL has other advantages besides fighting social injustice. Here are five (5) other good reasons why you should join:

  1. A subscription to the Pacific Citizen-a newspaper published by the National JACL about current activities and issues affecting Japanese-Americans and other Asian-Pacific Islander Americans.
  2. A comprehensive national scholarship and financial aid program for college-bound high school seniors, college students, graduate students, and other individuals involved in creative projects reflecting the Japanese-American experience and culture. Programs distribute over $60,000 each year to deserving individuals.
  3. Free admission to the Japanese American National Museum.
  4. A national credit union provides low-cost credit to its members through a variety of bank-like services.

There are many reasons for belonging to the JACL.  The JACL welcomes anyone who is committed to our national goal of “Better Americans for a Greater America.”  For more information, please contact us at  We will be happy to assist and to answer your questions.