An intersection in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo was renamed Rose Ochi Square on Tuesday in honor of the esteemed activist, with a celebration attended by her widower, Thomas Ochi.
Remembering an activist: The renamed area, located at First and Judge John Aiso streets, was requested by City Hall lobbyist Darlene Kuba to honor Ochi’s work, reported the Los Angeles Daily News.
- City Councilman Kevin de Leo introduced the ceremony, calling Ochi a “champion” for the city and the country.
- “Rose Ochi, without a doubt, was an Angeleno and Japanese-American civil rights champion,” de Leon said. “While she passed away last year on December 13, 2020, her legacy is embedded in the history of our city as well as our state and our nation.”
- Ochi passed away in her hometown, just days before her 82nd birthday after contracting COVID-19 for the second time, NextShark previously reported.
A legacy: The late Japanese American leader and civil rights activist was the first Asian American woman to be an assistant U.S. attorney general and a Los Angeles Police Commission member from 2001 to 2005.
- Born in Boyle Heights, Calif., Ochi and her family were sent to the Santa Anita Detention center when she was 3, before being moved to Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas, reported CBS LA. Her family moved back to LA after the war.
- Ochi graduated from UCLA in 1959, earned a law degree from Loyola Law School in 1972 and began a fellowship at USC’s Western Center on Law and Poverty where she was part of a landmark case on the California education system.
- She played a huge role in campaigning to win a federal apology and payments to survivors of Japanese Internment camps during World War II.
- “Somehow I learned that I’m not a real American. I’m an outsider,” Ochi said in an interview. “And instead of feeling like you’re ostracized, I just felt very strong, and I think over the years I was allowed to take on unpopular causes or stand up for people that are being beaten up … because I was an outsider, and it’s something that I embrace and I like.”