Lillian Kimura, who was the first woman to serve as Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) national president from 1992-94, has died. She was 91.
According to her niece, Margaret Golden, Kimura’s death on April 23 was the result of COVID-19.
During World War II, when Kimura was 13, she and her family were incarcerated at the Manzanar WRA Center in California. Kimura attended the University of Illinois, where she earned a degree in social work and eventually moved to New York to work for the YWCA.
Karen Narasaki, former Washington representative for JACL, called Kimura a force of nature.
“She became JACL national president at a time when few women had broken through the glass ceiling to lead national civil rights organizations. I learned a lot about leadership from watching her.”
Kimura’s passing comes weeks after the loss of Helen Kawagoe, JACL’s only other female national president, and Irene Hirano Inouye, founding president and CEO for the Japanese American National Museum and the US-Japan Council.