STATEMENT: Saldate honors Henry ‘Hank’ Oyama for contributions to civil rights, education
PHOENIX – Rep. Macario Saldate, D-Tucson (District 3), today honored Henry “Hank” Oyama, a native and civil rights advocate, who recently passed away. Shortly after Oyama’s funeral services, Saldate offered an official proclamation from the floor of House of Representatives. He released the following statement: Tucson
“Henry ‘Hank’ Oyama was a man of many accomplishments. He lived a life of service. His mother was from
Japan but he was born in and his primary language was Spanish. He and his family were sent to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II when he was just 15 years old. He still chose to serve his country in the United States Army and Air Force when he graduated from high school in 1945. Tucson
“Hank served in many other ways. He helped to stop a discriminatory practice in
. More than 50 years ago, he and his wife were not allowed to marry because Arizona law prohibited interracial marriage. Hank was of Japanese descent and Mary Ann Jordan, the woman who would become his wife, was not. Arizona
“Together they worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to change the law, which the Arizona Legislature repealed before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to end all race-based marriage restrictions. Hank and Mary Ann were married until her passing in 1987.
“Years later he would pioneer efforts to bring bilingual education to schools in the Southwest and worked with federal lawmakers to fund bilingual education. He spent 18 years working for the
, which named an elementary school for him in February 2003. Tucson Unified School District
“Hank spent much of his life in
where he was a model citizen who contributed to his community. He will be missed.” Tucson
According to the Arizona Daily Star, Oyama is survived by his wife of 21 years, Laura Ann; daughter Mary Catherine Tate; sons David Oyama, Patrick Oyama and Steven Oyama; stepchildren Susanna Minegishi, Chris Toledo, Elizabeth Toledo, Pablo Toledo and Andrea Leyva; 14 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.