By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Over his 30-year career, the late Alan Sugiyama gave a helping hand to thousands of people who needed mentoring, job training, advice, or friendship.
Now, there is a proposal to rename a Seattle city intersection after the community activist.
“The late Mr. Sugiyama used the intersection for over 20 years as his literal pathway to serve thousands of K-12 students and adult work trainees in Seattle and Everett from his home between South Oregon and South Nevada Streets on 13th Avenue South,” said Larry Matsuda, of the Alan Sugiyama Memorial Committee. “The intersection is close to Mercer Middle School. The school was in the district he served as a board member and is close to his home … Since the Center for Career Alternatives (CCA) no longer exists and the buildings are occupied by other agencies, there was not an opportunity to honor him at that site for his years of service as CCA executive director.”
Sugiyama, who died in January, established the CCA for young people in the 1980s, served as the first Asian American on the Seattle School Board in the 1990s, and was the director for the Executive Development Institute (EDI) until a few years before his death.
On Memorial Day, a group of community members met to discuss how to remember and honor Sugiyama’s work and service. The idea arose to have the south Seattle intersection named in his honor with a plaque and street sign. Sugiyama’s daughter still lives in the neighborhood and uses the intersection.
The Alan Sugiyama Memorial Committee met with Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell in late June.
Harrell agreed to support legislation to make the street signs and plaque a reality by a Sept. 10 unveiling — which would have been Sugiyama’s 68th birthday.
Tim Julius, a former CCA board member, said, “Al was a great, passionate community activist who wanted everyone to have the opportunity to improve their lives and in turn our communities.”
Sugiyama’s friend Cindi Shiota told the Northwest Asian Weekly she was delighted to hear of this renaming effort, and that she could not think of a more appropriate recognition for a more deserving individual. “In fact, the only person I could think of who would not fully agree with and support this project would have been Alan himself,” said Shiota. “It is really a memorial to all the good [Alan] has done in this world and a lasting reminder to all of us that there is more we can and should do to help our people and communities.”
Now, the Committee’s goal is to raise $4,000 — $2,000 for the signs and $2,000 for the plaque, mailings, postage, and hall rental for the unveiling. To make a tax deductible donation, make checks payable to: OCA Greater Seattle and write “Al Sugiyama Memorial” on the left hand corner of the check. Mail to Larry Matsuda, Memorial Committee, 4134 12th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98108.
Last year, the Seattle City Council approved a proposal to honor another late community activist — Donnie Chin. The International Children’s Park was renamed Donnie Chin International Children’s Park. Chin was instrumental in the founding and building of the park in 1981.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.