2023/10/28: Film “One Fighting Irishman,” story of legendary civil rights attorney for Japanese Americans, to be premiered at Japanese American National Museum, Saturday, Oct. 28 at 2PM

The premiere of the documentary, ONE FIGHTING IRISHMAN, that tells the story of legendary civil rights attorney, Wayne M. Collins, and his work at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, is set for Saturday, October 28, 2 to 3:30 pm, at the Japanese American National Museum.

Narrator George Takei, Collins’ attorney son Wayne Merrill Collins, and filmmaker Sharon Yamato will be on hand to discuss the film with Densho content director Brian Niiya serving as moderator for the post-screening panel discussion.

The title of the film is from a quote by activist Edison Uno who said, “If you haven’t met Mr. Collins, you haven’t experienced the bitterness of 110,000 evacuees in one fighting Irishman.”

The half-hour documentary focuses on Collins’ 23-year battle to restore American citizenship for more than 5,500 Tule Lake segregants who renounced following years of forced confinement. After being removed from their homes and put into detention camps, they refused to answer or answered “no-no” to questions 27 and 28 of the government’s so-called “loyalty questionnaire” asking them to serve in the U.S. military and forswear allegiance to Japan.

Wayne Collins was among the few attorneys who stepped up to fight for the rights of these thousands of Japanese Americans deprived of both their Constitutional rights and their citizenship during wartime and subsequently segregated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center.

In documenting Collins’ role in his fight to regain citizenship for the renunciants, the film documents the complicated and turbulent story of the divisive issues that plagued Tule Lake throughout its history as a segregation center.

Aside from the governmental institution of martial law and the building of a stockade within the camp, Tule Lake became a hotbed for pro-Japanese forces that created an atmosphere of violence and lawlessness more pervasive than at any of the other nine camps. Collins argued that the situation was a result of duress caused by the government’s policy of incarceration and segregation of those the government ultimately wanted deported to Japan.

The film features rare audiotape of actual conversations with Collins, as well as interviews with such scholars as University of North Carolina law professor Eric Muller, author Stan Yogi, University of Quebec history professor Greg Robinson, and Donald E. Collins (no relation) who wrote the seminal book on Tule Lake, Native American Aliens. Noted Tule Lake poet/playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi, who passed away in 2019, is also featured in interview and performance.

George Takei’s mother, a U.S. citizen, was among the many who were segregated and victimized at Tule Lake. Wayne Collins was responsible for getting her citizen restored after she was coerced into renouncing. In addition to Takei, attorney Wayne Merrill Collins, who carried on his father’s work after he died in 1974, will address the legacy left by his father. The post-screening discussion will be moderated by historian Brian Niiya, who also offers insight into the situation at Tule Lake as part of the film.

A reception and an opportunity to meet and discuss the film directly with members of the cast and crew will follow in the foyer at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum, 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. DVDs will also be available for sale.

Funding for this film was provided by a grant from the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program to Visual Communications Media. Additional funding was provided by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

For more information on this project, please contact Sharon Yamato at sharony360@gmail.com. For questions regarding the JACS grant program, please contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, NPS, at 303-969-2885.

JANM Link for tickets: https://www.janm.org/events/2023-10-28/premiere-screening-one-fighting-irishman-wayne-m-collins-and-tule-lake