Takaki is considered a pioneer in Asian American Studies and a scholar on race relations, even helping President Clinton with a speech on race relations in America in 1997. He taught at Cal for over 30 years, established the nation’s first ethnic studies Ph.D. program at Cal, and authored Strangers From a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, Democracy and Race: Asian Americans and World War II, Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th-Century America, and Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II. Considered the preeminent work on Asian American history, Strangers from a Different Shore was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1989.
Takaki’s work and passion undoubtedly touched the lives of many of his students. I was one of those students who was moved after reading Strangers From A Different Shore and was privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from him at Cal.
After one of the last classes I had with Takaki, he sent me a note with these words: “Wow, what a riveting read. What you have done as a writer and artist is to give ‘voice’ [through your writing]... You have my best wishes to your bright career as a writer.” Those words touched me then, and they still do now - more than ever. Thank you, Ron.
His family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Takaki’s name to the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco.