Follow former WWII internee Norman Mineta’s rise through American politics

Norman Mineta has lived quite a life.

Meet the statesman who served as cabinet secretary for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. Imprisoned by the U.S. during World War II for his Japanese ancestry, Mineta rose to become the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet.

His remarkable life story and political career shine in “Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story” on Monday, May 20, at 8 p.m.

WATCH: “Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story”

Mineta is a man of many firsts:

  • First Asian American mayor of a major city (San Jose, California)
  • First Japanese American from the mainland to be elected to Congress
  • First Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet

Beyond these groundbreaking achievements, Mineta personifies the aspirations of many Americans. A U.S. citizen by birth, he was imprisoned by his own country for his Japanese ancestry, yet he steadfastly remained a patriot, leading a Congressional effort for an apology from the U.S. government and redress for 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II. That effort finally came to fruition when the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

During his 21 years in Congress, Mineta worked to endorse same-sex marriage. He co-authored the 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act and pushed to make public facilities accessible after navigating San Jose in a wheelchair and realizing it was impossible to cross the street.

The film includes interviews with the two presidents under whom he served as a cabinet secretary: Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush.

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