This oral history interview with John Y. Murakami was conducted by George Katagiri from July 13-20, 1992, at Murakami's home in Portland, Oregon. The interview was recorded as part of the Japanese American Oral History Project, which was conducted by the Oregon Historical Society to preserve the stories of Japanese Americans in Oregon. This interview was conducted in three sessions.
In the first interview session, conducted on July 13, 1992, Murakami discusses his family background and early life on a farm in Sherwood, Oregon, and in Portland, Oregon. He talks about the grocery store that his father, Shuichi Sam Murakami, owned; his experience during the Depression; and his education. He discusses jobs he worked after dropping out of high school and talks about playing in the Nisei Baseball League.
In the second interview session, conducted on July 14, 1992, Murakami continues discussing his experiences in the Nisei Baseball League, as well as his interest in other sports. He also talks about his social life as a teenager. He speaks about a few instances of prejudice that he experienced. He discusses his experience in the U.S. Army, serving in the European Theater during World War II. He also talks about the U.S. government's incarceration of his family at the Minidoka War Relocation Center, and about his marriage to Sumi Matsushita. He then discusses his life in Portland after his discharge from the Army in 1945, including working in construction and teaching building construction at Benson Polytechnic High School.
In the third and final interview session, conducted on July 20, 1992, Murakami talks about his children, their education, their families, and their careers. He then talks about his retirement activities, particularly his involvement in Japanese American community organizations. He also revisits the topic of his Army experience during World War II. He shares his opinion about the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted redress to Japanese Americans whom the government incarcerated during the war. He closes the interview by reflecting upon his life and accomplishments.
Murakami, John Y. (John Yoneo), 1919-2005