- Karen Narasaki
Karen K. Narasaki (born
April 4, 1958) is a nationally renowned civil rights leader and human rights activist. She is the president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), formerly known as the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (NAPALC). AAJC is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit civil rights organization whose mission is to advance the human and civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans through advocacy, public policy, public education and litigation. [Asian American Justice Center Web site www.advancingequality.org [http://www.advancingequality.org] ] Prior to her current post, she served as the Washington, D.C. representative to the Japanese American Citizens League.
Narasaki was born in
Seattle, Washington. She became interested in civil rights when at age eight she accidentally overheard the pained voices of her parents discussing where their family would live next. Seattle was no longer an option. Although her father was a second generation Japanese American, served in the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Teamof the U.S. Army, the all-Japanese American unit that fought in Europe during World War II, and an engineer at Boeing, the possibility of buying his family a house in Seattle was out of the question due to racial covenants at the time. [cite web|url = http://jannachan.com/groupthink/archives/000064.html] |title = Profile: Karen Narasaki] After graduating from Yale Universityand UCLAlaw school, Narasaki worked as a corporate attorney at Perkins Coie. While at the firm, Narasaki moonlighted as a civil rights activist at Asian American and women’s rights groups.
In 1986, Narasaki said goodbye to corporate America to enter the nonprofit sector as an advocate for human and civil rights. She has a long history of civil rights activism. Under Narasaki’s leadership, AAJC - which is affiliated with the Asian American Institute in Chicago, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles, and the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco - led the passage of the reauthorizations of key provisions of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965. In doing so, AAJC helped unite African American, Latino, Native American and other stakeholders to identify the necessary research, while organizing testimony, training organizers and educating the public about the continuing existence of discriminatory barriers and behavior in voting.
As chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, Narasaki is also an advocate for television diversity on behalf of Asian Americans. She serves as a member of the Asian Pacific American Advisory Council, a group of community, civic and business leaders who advise
Nielsen Media Research, an international provider of television audience measurement services, on reaching out to Asian Americans. Through AAJC, Narasaki also issues an annual report card on the major networks - NBC, ABC, CBSand FOX- on their diversity efforts. These initiatives have led to more than a 20 percent increase for both regular and recurring roles for Asian Pacific Americans on prime-time television shows - both on and off-camera. [*"The 2002 TV season: what's new, what's black, what's back!," Ebony, Oct. 1, 2002. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1077/is_12_57/ai_97997717] ]
In addition, Narasaki serves in a number of leadership positions in the civil rights and immigrant rights communities. She is vice chair of the
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the national civil rights coalition and as vice president of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reformand chair of the Rights Working Group, a coalition of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and immigrant rights advocates working together to address the deterioration of civil and human rights in the aftermath of 9/11. She also serves on the board of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil RightsEducation Fund, and is a past board member of the Independent Sector.
Narasaki also serves on the National Commission on Adult Literacy, a national project of the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy which promotes adult literacy and is the immediate past chair of the
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
A nationally recognized expert on affirmative action and immigrant, civil and voting rights Narasaki has appeared on "
The Newshour with Jim Lehrer," ABC and CBS News, " Hardball with Chris Matthews" and has been quoted in just about every major American newspaper. During the Clinton administration, Narasaki was invited to the White Houseon several occasions to advise the president on civil rights issues.
Recognized by Washingtonian Magazine in 2001 and 2006 as one of the "100 most powerful women in Washington, D.C.," Narasaki has received numerous awards and accolades. In 2005, she was the recipient of the
American Bar AssociationSpirit of Excellence Award, and has received the Congressional Black CaucusChair's Award, International ChannelWe the People Award, and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Asian Americans of the Decade by A Magazine. Along with numerous other awards, she is also the 2004 recipient of the Greater Sacramento Urban LeagueRuth Standish Baldwin Award, the 2000 U.S. Department of Justice Citizen Volunteer Service Award, the 1999 Asian Pacific American Labor AllianceCommunity Award, and the 1994 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Trailblazer Award.
*AAJC Biography [http://www.advancingequality.org/narasaki/]
*Asian American Justice Center Web site [http://www.advancingequality.org]
*American Bar Association Web site [http://www.abanet.org/publiced/rbkn.html]
*"U.S. Should Take Leadership Role in Racial Justice," St. Paul Pioneer Press, Aug. 16, 2001. [http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0816-01.htm]
*"I, Too, Am an Affirmative-Action Baby," Essence, Oct. 1, 1997. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1264/is_n6_v28/ai_19801488]
*"The 2002 TV season: what's new, what's black, what's back!," Ebony, Oct. 1, 2002. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1077/is_12_57/ai_97997717]
*"Handling of Arab-American data blasted," Deseret News, Nov. 10, 2004. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20041110/ai_n11486073]
*"Asian-Americans trying to be seen by politicians," Associated Press, Feb. 22, 2004. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_20040222/ai_n10935951]
*"Advocates mark high point of civil rights movement," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 24, 2003. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_20030824/ai_n10905474]
*"Networks plan events to bring more minorities to TV shows," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 24, 2002 [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_20020124/ai_n10756086]
*"Asian population surging," Chicago Sun-Times, March 11, 2001. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20010311/ai_n13893350]
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