|Vol. 12 No. 23
NOVEMBER 13, 2017
Remembering Paul Kusuda
|STORIES AND COLUMNS
Time to Put an End to Daylight
By Wayne Strong
Gun Control and Community Fear,
By Heidi M. Pascual
Veterans Day Reflections,
The Naked Truth
Police Body Cams are No
By Jamala Rogers
Five Senses Palate
Roasting Dinner while You Work,
By Sujhey Beisser
Brown Girl Green Money
By Angela Fitzgerald Ward
Hooker, Ortiz Join School of Arts
and Sciences Administration:
Madison College Names Two
New Associate Deans,
From Madison College
DAIS Received a Donation from
Fox Lake Inmates: Healing
By Phil Haslinger
Puerto Rico Relief Fund of South
Central Wisconsin: Multifaceted
By Jonathan Gramling
Weekends can be such bittersweet moments in our lives. Saturday was such a joyous day with the Madison Metropolitan Link’s Scholarship &
Community Recognition Jazz Brunch. Barbara Franks, Oscar Mireles, Sheila Stubbs, Dr. Girma Tefera, Dr. Makeba Williams and Access
Community Health Centers were honored with the 2017 Community Service Awards. Each of them are so deserving. The Link’s Jazz Brunch
always has such a good vibe to it because of the cause they serve and the people they honor. And this year was no exception.
And then on Saturday night, there was the SSM Health Fall Gospel Fest sponsored by Clyde Gaines and PEBOGA. It was a rousing night of
gospel music featuring VaShawn Mitchell and Koryn Hawthorne. It was such a moving night that everyone leaving High Pont Church had a
smile on their face and a lightness in their step. The world held such beauty and happiness at that moment in time.
And then Sunday came around. I’ve always felt a certain depression about Sunday night. The weekend — a time of relative freedom — was
finished and the hard school or work week was set to start again in what seemed to be just a few hours. And now recently, I’ve learned about
too many deaths on Sunday nights.
Last night, I received an email from Missy Kusuda informing me that her father Paul Kusuda had passed away. While perhaps I shouldn’t have
been, I was shocked that he had died. Paul was 95 years old, but he seemed to always be the same age with the same gait as he was when I
first met him in the 1990s.
I think I first met Paul through Betty Franklin-Hammonds. They were both social workers of color during an era when there weren’t that many.
Paul was a natural community social worker even though he worked for the state. Paul cared for people no matter what their history or culture
or ethnicity was. He believed in people and he truly felt that an injustice to anyone was an injustice to all.
I am sure some of that can be attributed to Paul’s experience in 1942 when like any other high school student, he was looking forward to
attending college. However, because he was Japanese American , born and raised in the U.S., he and his family were hauled off to Manzanar,
one of internment camps that Japanese Americans were hauled off due to the executive orders issued after Pearl Harbor. Paul stayed at the
camp until he was allowed to attend the University of Chicago after about a year.
While Paul totally resented being treated this way, he didn’t let it harden his heart. He didn’t let the forces around him change who he was. And
he never stopped being loyal to the country of his birth, the United States of America.
I really started to get to know Paul after I received a recognition for the Wisconsin Organization for Asian Americans shortly after I had become
the editor of The Madison Times. And although Paul was a retired social worker by then, it didn’t mean that he stopped caring.
Paul was an advocate for the rights and programs for senior citizens. I got a call from Valice Payton Gross who would often bring sweet potato
pies to King Holiday and other community celebrations. She asked me if I knew that Paul had died. Well Paul was involved with Colonial Club
or something else on the Madison outskirts and Paul had given her rides to some meetings. I am sure that Paul has touched a lot of other lives
that I am unaware of.
Paul was an ardent supporter of Asian Wisconzine and The Capital City Hues. Paul has been a subscriber since the beginning and always
renewed his subscription for more than the face value.
Paul and his wife Atsuko were both interned in internment camps. Atsuko’s family had been placed in Arkansas, I do believe. And they were
recipients of reparation payments when the U.S. government formally apologized for this basic abrogation of their human and civil rights. But
instead of spending it on themselves, they donated a good portion of the proceeds to non-profits and causes they believed in. And they sent
some money to The Capital City Hues during the midst of The Great Recession when advertising was tight and I was wondering if I should save
what little capital we had left and shut down the paper. It was a paper-saving gesture.
And when he learned that The Capital City Hues was going to hold its 10th Anniversary celebration last year at the Labor Temple, Paul insisted
on becoming a sponsor and sent me a check. And then later on, I received another check from Paul and I tried to return it because I felt it was
duplicate. He told me to keep it and I did because I did not want to insult him. It was something that he intended to do.
Paul’s personal support for me was often times a tonic. Here was this man who had suffered so much and still came out of the experience on
top that when he believed in the paper, I felt that I was somewhere on the eternal arc of justice that Dr. King described. I sometimes feel that
Paul saw more in me than I saw myself.
And I always have enjoyed Paul’s columns that appeared in The Capital City Hues via Asian Wisconzine. When he wrote about aging issues, I
would read his column with one eye on myself. He helped me mentally plan for the current transition in life that I am experiencing. I will miss
Paul’s columns. They were always so level-headed using good common sense to draw his conclusions.
Paul will always be missed. He was and always will be a good man.