Reasons to love the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center
♥ | Because you can do great things there
We took over a community newspaper and, from the ECC, we created the first pan-Asian publication in Seattle. It all started with Diane Wong, 1972, Norman Mar, 1972, Alan Sugiyama, 1984 and me. I remember a meeting at the ECC to name him. We had a number of ideas and someone brought up the Sly and the Family Stone song, “Family Affair”. We took that and created “Asian Family Affair”.*
We met at the center on Saturdays and Sundays and did everything by hand. Sometimes we had to ask the campus police to let us in on weekends. We had an IBM electric typewriter and we wrote and laid out the paper, collecting all the stories and pictures. The University gave us this space to publish a newspaper and tell stories that no other local media would produce. We wrote about Alaska Cannery workers and Executive Order 9066, the 1942 executive order that led to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. We interviewed Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color elected to Congress, and George Takei, actor and activist. We were pushing to showcase Asians in public roles.
None of us got paid. The newspaper was a labor of love for our community and a need to spread the news. Many of us were going to school and the ECC was close. Without being able to start there on campus, I don’t know how long we could have stayed focused. At ECC, we had a stimulating environment. It was a place where people could have different points of view and still get along.
—Frank Irigon’76, ’79, longtime activist and co-founder and alumnus Executive Director of the International District Community Health Center. Recipient of the 2022 Charles E. Odegaard Prize.
*In 1972, Asian American and Pacific Islander students established Asian Family Affair, the first pan-Asian newspaper in the Northwest. The hardworking team of reporters covered topics such as labor disputes, neighborhood preservation and women’s rights. They did this work from the Ethnic Cultural Center.