Fred Yamamoto was a Japanese American Palo Altan who faced racial adversity and forced incarceration during World War II. He was a youth leader who inspired others with his devotion to equality and community. A decorated soldier, he was killed in action fighting for American ideals of democracy and justice.
The PAUSD Recommending School Names Advisory Committee strongly recommended that the PAUSD school district consider the inspirational legacy of this remarkable young man when selecting new names for our two middle schools. However, some community members expressed concerns about the negative association with the (unrelated) Admiral Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The school board, therefore, decided not to name a school in honor of Fred.
This has been a difficult and painful issue, but also presents us with an opportunity to seek to build empathy and understanding. Fred's message of faith in American democracy and justice, resilience in the face of discrimination and adversity, and devotion and service to community can be an inspiration to us all. With the blessing of his family, we are setting up a modest scholarship fund in Fred Yamamoto's memory. At the close of the 2017/18 School Year, we will use the donations to award and recognize a student (or students) who have demonstrated civic leadership, inclusion and service reminiscent of Fred's spirit. (Depending on the sum raised, we might be able to keep the Scholarship active for more than one year.)
We believe this is an effort many in the community can come together to join: those who supported Fred's nomination and those who opposed it. For anyone who was inspired by Fred Yamamoto's service and sacrifice and wants to work to keep his memory alive: Thank You!"Let us not be pessimistic, nor overly optimistic, but let us keep faith- faith in the dignity and goodness of man." - Fred Yamamoto
For more information about Fred Yamamoto, see the following:
Fred Yamamoto's Story: https://fredyamamotoschool.wordpress.com
The Verde Article that inspired his nomination: http://verdemagazine.com/stories-of-internment-fred-yamamoto
WWII Veterans of Japanese Ancestry, including the 442nd Combat Team: http://www.goforbroke.org
Heart Mountain WWII Japanese American Confinement Site: http://www.heartmountain.org
The RSN Report: https://www.pausd.org/sites/default/files/pdf-faqs/attachments/RSN%20Exec%20Summary%20for%20032718%20BOE%5B1%5D_1.pdf