7th annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference April 10-12, 2023

Race and Belonging: Asian American Experiences in the Pacific Northwest
The Blake Center is hosting its annual conference on April 10-12. We are in the midst of a series of conferences on the significance of race and place. This year we are highlighting the experiences of Asian and Asian American people in Walla Walla and the PNW more broadly.

On Monday, April 10, at 7:00pm, Marie Rose Wong presented “Building Tradition: The Legacy of Seattle’s Chinatown and the Single-Room Occupancy Residential Hotels” in WEC 209 at Walla Walla University. 
Lecture Video on YouTube
Lecture Presentation Slides

Marie Rose Wong joined the Institute of Public Service faculty in January 2002. Prior to joining Seattle University, she taught at Texas A&M, Iowa State University, CalPoly-San Luis Obispo, and the University of Washington.

Marie’s teaching and research interests are in Urban Studies, including housing, urban and architectural history, land use development, sustainability, and in Asian American studies. She has a number of presentations and publications on Chinese American settlements and urban preservation of ethnic communities that include a book on Portland, Oregon’s First Chinese communities entitled Sweet Cakes, Long Journey: The Chinatowns of Portland, Oregon and a recent publication entitled Building Tradition: Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels.

Originally from the Midwest, Marie received her Bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in Community and Regional Planning. She holds a Master’s degree in Planning and Community Development from the University of Colorado and has a Ph.D. in Urban Design and Planning with specialty areas in urban and architectural history, Chinese American history, and a Certificate in Preservation Planning from the University of Washington. In addition to teaching, Marie has over twenty-five years of experience in public and private sector urban planning and has worked for agencies such as the Puget Sound Regional Council, King County Transportation Planning, the City of San Diego, and King and Associates in Denver. She is currently on the Board of InterIm Community Development Association and is President of the Board of the Kong Yick Investment Company.

On Tuesday, April 11, at 11:00am, Shawn Wong presented “How I Came to Understand Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in only 50 Years” in the University Church for Walla Walla University's CommUnity service. A Q&A session was held in the Fellowship hall following CommUnity. 
Video Lecture on YouTube
Lecture Presentation Slides

Shawn Wong is the author of two novels, Homebase and American Knees, the later was adapted into an award-winning feature film.  He is also the editor and co-editor of six anthologies of Asian American and American multicultural literature, including the landmark anthology, Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers.  He is currently a Professor of English and the Byron and Alice Lockwood Professor in the Humanities at the University of Washington where he has served as Director of Creative Writing Program, Chair of the Department of English, and Director of the University Honors Program.

On Tuesday, April 11, at 7:00pm, Frank Abe presented, “We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration” in WEC 209 at Walla Walla University.
Video Lecture on YouTube
Lecture Presentation Slides

FRANK ABE is lead author of a graphic novel, WE HEREBY REFUSE: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration (Chin Music Press, 2021), named a Finalist in Creative Nonfiction for the Washington State Book Award. He wrote, produced, and directed the award-winning PBS documentary Conscience and the Constitution on the largest organized resistance to the camps.

He won an American Book Award as co-editor of JOHN OKADA: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press), in which he authored the first-ever biography of Okada and traced the origins of his novel. He is currently co-editing The Penguin Book of the Literature of Japanese American Incarceration (Penguin Classics, 2024).

Abe helped produce the first-ever “Day of Remembrance” in Seattle in 1978 with Frank Chin and Lawson Inada, and together they invented a new Japanese American tradition to reclaim the history of wartime imprisonment and publicly dramatize the campaign for redress. He was an original member of Chin’s Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco and studied at the American Conservatory Theater.

Abe worked as a reporter for KIRO Newsradio in Seattle, and as communications director for King County Executives Gary Locke and Dow Constantine, and the Metropolitan King County Council.

On Wednesday, April 12, at 12:00pm, Susan Monahan presented, “Chinese In Charge: Domestics in the Homes of Walla Walla” in WEC 209 at Walla Walla University.
Video Lecture on YouTube
Lecture Presentation Slides

Susan Monahan moved to Walla Walla fourteen years ago and was soon intrigued by the community's history. She served as a docent and on the board of Kirkman House Museum for nine years and has for three years helped to coordinate the Living History Program at Fort Walla Walla Museum as well as performing as time-traveling characters. She writes for the “Times Past” column in Walla Walla's Union Bulletin newspaper. Her book Walla Walla Past and Present was published in March of 2022 by Arcadia Publishing Company. The Chinese community of Walla Walla is a topic of special interest to her and she is pleased to share the fascinating stories of the Chinese domestics who kept so many households running smoothly.

Susan has been awarded the 2023 David Douglas Award, which recognizes the significant contribution of an individual or an organization that informs or expands appreciation of Washington State history, by the Washington State Historical Society.

6th annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference April 12-14, 2022

Race and Belonging: Latinx Experiences in the PNW
We plan to thematically focus on race and belonging in the Walla Walla valley for our 2022, 2023, and 2024 conferences, highlighting different topics and populations each year. The consideration of race in Walla Walla and/or Eastern Washington is an underdeveloped site of study, so we plan to highlight existing scholarship that includes a regional focus. For the 2022 conference, we are specifically focusing on the experiences of Latinx people.

Raza y Pertenencia: Experiencias Latinx en el PNW
Planeamos enfocarnos temáticamente en la raza y la pertenencia en el valle de Walla Walla para nuestras conferencias de 2022, 2023 y 2024, destacando diferentes temas y poblaciones cada año. La consideración de la raza en Walla Walla y/o el este de Washington es un sitio de estudio subdesarrollado, por lo que planeamos resaltar la beca existente que incluye un enfoque regional. Para la conferencia de 2022, nos estamos enfocando específicamente en las experiencias de las personas Latinx.

On Tuesday, April 12, at 11:00 a.m., Guadalupe Gamboa and Michael Fox presented “Fight in Fields: The Farmworkers Struggle for Economic and Social Justice in Washington State.”
YouTube Link / Enlace de YouTube

Guadalupe Gamboa
In June 19, 1971 Lupe Gamboa changed WA history by refusing to leave  Rogers Walla Walla labor camp where he had previously been invited by migrant workers who sought help with payment of their wages.  When he and his lawyer, Michael Fox, were asked to leave the premises by a supervisory employee, they refused to leave and were arrested and convicted of criminal trespass in Walla Walla District court. This conviction was overturned by a unanimous WA Supreme Court in State v. Fox signaling the start of organizational and legal challenges to a feudal like era where farmworkers were openly denied equal protection of the law.  Lupe and Mike will talk about their role in this continuing fight against structural racism and for farmworker justice.

Michael Fox
Michael Fox is a retired civil rights and labor lawyer. He began representing farm workers in the Yakima Valley in 1970, and kept at it, in one way or another, until 1988, when he was appointed as a Judge on the King County Superior Court. He served on the bench until 2011, when he retired. He came out of retirement in 2016, when Franklin County hired him as a Special Deputy Coroner to assist in the conduct of an Inquest into the “officer involved shooting” death of Antonio Zambrano Montes, a Mexican farm worker, in Pasco in early 2015. He served as a Judge on the Tulalip Tribal Court during 2017. He’s now fully retired.

Mike describes his sudden immersion in representing farm workers as a “life changing experience”. In 1970, there were very few Hispanic lawyers in Washington. He was 26 years old, a year out of law school, and, in his own words, “very inexperienced”. He had studied Spanish in high school and college at Cornell University and had worked in the Civil Rights Movement while at the University of Virginia School of Law. In June, 1971, Lupe and Mike were arrested at the Rogers Walla Walla Labor Camp on Lateral B outside Walla Walla. They were convicted of criminal trespassing. The Washington State Supreme Court ultimately reversed and vacated their sentences. This opinion has been the legal basis for organizers, lawyers, migrant assistance workers, and religious workers to enter Washington farm labor housing areas for the last 49 years.

Court Decisions
State v Fox
LaDuke v Nelson
Garza v Patnode

El martes 12 de abril a las 11:00 a.m., Guadalupe Gamboa y Michael Fox presentaron “Fight in Fields: The Farmworkers Struggle for Economic and Social Justice in Washington State.”
YouTube Link / Enlace de YouTube

Guadalupe Gamboa 
El 19 de junio de 1971, Lupe Gamboa cambió la historia de WA al negarse a irse del campo de trabajo de Rogers Walla Walla, donde había sido invitado previamente por trabajadores migrantes que buscaban ayuda para el pago de sus salarios. Cuando un empleado supervisor les pidió a él y a su abogado, Michael Fox, que abandonaran las instalaciones, se negaron a hacerlo y fueron arrestados y condenados por allanamiento criminal en el tribunal del distrito de Walla Walla. Esta condena fue anulada por unanimidad de la Corte Suprema de WA en Estado v. Fox, lo que marca el comienzo de desafíos organizativos y legales a una era feudal en la que a los trabajadores agrícolas se les negaba abiertamente la igualdad de protección de la ley. Lupe y Mike hablarán sobre su papel en esta lucha continua contra el racismo estructural y por la justicia de los trabajadores agrícolas.

Michael Fox
Michael Fox es un retirado abogado de derechos civiles y laboral. Comenzó representando a los trabajadores agrícolas en el Valle de Yakima en 1970, y se mantuvo en eso, de una forma u otra, hasta 1988, cuando fue nombrado Juez del Tribunal Superior del Condado de King. Estuvo en el banco hasta 2011, cuando se retiró. Salió de su retiro en 2016, cuando el condado de Franklin lo contrató como forense adjunto especial para ayudar en la investigación judicial sobre la muerte del "oficial involucrado tiroteo" de Antonio Zambrano Montes, un trabajador agrícola mexicano, en Pasco a principios de 2015. Se desempeñó como juez en el Tribunal Tribal de Tulalip durante 2017. Él ahora está completamente retirado.

Mike describe su repentina inmersión en la representación de los trabajadores agrícolas como una "experiencia que cambia la vida". En 1970 había muy pocos abogados hispanos en Washington. Tenía 26 años, un año fuera de la facultad de derecho y, en sus propias palabras,“muy inexperto”. Había estudiado español en la escuela secundaria y el colegio en la Universidad de Cornell y había trabajado en el Movimiento de Derechos Civiles mientras estaba en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Virginia. En junio de 1971, Lupe y Mike fueron arrestados en el campo de trabajos forzados Rogers Walla Walla en el lateral B en las afueras de Walla Walla. Fueron condenados por allanamiento criminal. La Corte Suprema del Estado de Washington finalmente revocó y anuló sus sentencias. Esta opinión ha sido la base legal para que organizadores, abogados, trabajadores de asistencia a inmigrantes y trabajadores religiosos ingresen a las áreas de viviendas para trabajadores agrícolas de Washington durante los últimos 49 años.

Decisiones Judiciales
State v Fox
LaDuke v Nelson
Garza v Patnode

On Wednesday, April 13, at 7:00 p.m., María Isabel Morales presented “Culture, Land, and Play: Listening to and Learning from Mexican American Children of Immigrants" in the Fine Arts Center Auditorium on Walla Walla University campus.
Youtube Link / Enlace de Youtube

María Isabel Morales
Dr. Maria Isabel Morales obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (with an emphasis in Sociology, Chicanx Studies and Spanish) from Eastern Washington University.  She earned her PhD in Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education from Washington State University. Her dissertation research, an exploratory Case Study of Mexican American children of (Im)migrants, shed light on the stories and experiences of migrant children working in cherry orchards in central Washington.

Dr. María Isabel Morales, a bilingual 1.5 generation immigrant, is the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Mexican (im)migrants. She draws from her own experiences and from family stories of guest worker programs, farm work, and border crossing journeys in her research and teaching.

She is currently an assistant professor at The Evergreen State College. She helps students learn cultural studies in education and Latinx studies. 

El miércoles 13 de abril, a las 7 p.m., María Isabel Morales presentó “Culture, Land, and Play: Listening to and Learning from Mexican American Children of Immigrants" en el Fine Arts Center Auditorium de Walla Walla University.
Youtube Link / Enlace de Youtube

María Isabel Morales
La Dra. María Isabel Morales obtuvo una Licenciatura en Artes en Estudios Interdisciplinarios (con énfasis en Sociología, Estudios chicanx y español) de la Universidad de Eastern Washington. Obtuvo su doctorado en Estudios Culturales y Pensamiento Social en Educación de la Universidad Estatal de Washington. Su investigación de disertación, un estudio de caso exploratorio de niños mexicoamericanos de (in)migrantes, arrojó luz sobre las historias y experiencias de niños migrantes que trabajan en huertos de cerezos en el centro de Washington.

La Dra. María Isabel Morales, una inmigrante bilingüe de 1.5 generaciones, es hija, nieta y bisnieta de (in)migrantes mexicanos. Ella se basa en sus propias experiencias y en historias familiares de programas de trabajadores invitados, trabajo agrícola y viajes de cruce de fronteras en su investigación y enseñanza.

Actualmente ella es profesora asistente en el Colegio del Estado de Evergreen. Ella ayuda estudiantes a aprender estudios culturales en educación y estudios Latinx.

On Thursday, April 14, at 7:00 p.m., Mario Jimenez Sifuentez gave a presentation highlighting his book, "Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the pacific Northwest" in the Fine Arts Center Auditorium on Walla Walla University campus.
YouTube Link / Enlace de YouTube

Mario Jimenez Sifuentez
Dr. Mario Sifuentez is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Merced. He received his BA, as well as his MA, from the University of Oregon in Ethnic Studies, and History. He completed his Ph.D. at Brown University in American Studies with a focus on immigration and labor. His book Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest (Rutgers University Press, 2016) analyzes the factors that brought ethnic Mexican immigrants to the Pacific Northwest and the ways in which immigrants responded to the labor conditions by demanding both labor rights and citizenship rights. He is also the co-author of “The Foundations of Modern Farm Worker Unionism:  From UFW to PCUN” in Labor’s New World: Essays on the Future of Working-Class America.  He is currently at work on his second project on water, food, and farmworkers in the California’s Central Valley.

El jueves 14 de abril, a las 7 p.m., Mario Jimenez Sifuentez realizó una presentación destacando su libro "Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the pacific Northwest" en el Fine Arts Center Auditorium de Walla Walla University
YouTube Link / Enlace de YouTube

Mario Jiménez Sifuentez
El Dr. Mario Sifuentez es Profesor Asistente de Historia en la Universidad de California, Merced. Recibió su BA, así como su MA, de la Universidad de Oregón en Estudios Étnicos e Historia. Completó su Ph.D. en la Universidad de Brown en Estudios Americanos con un enfoque en inmigración y trabajo. Su libro de Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest (Rutgers University Press, 2016) analiza los factores que trajeron inmigrantes étnicos mexicanos al noroeste del pacífico y las maneras en que los inmigrantes respondieron a las condiciones laborales exigiendo tanto derechos laborales como derechos de ciudadanía. También es coautor de “The Foundations of Modern Farm Worker Unionism: From UFW to PCUN” in Labor’s New World: Essays on the Future of Working-Class America. Corrientemente él está trabajando en su segundo proyecto sobre agua, comida y trabajadores agrícolas en el Valle Central de California.

Poner los Pies en la Tierra: Two Steps Beyond, an interactive walking tour featuring the stories of Estela Muro, Erika Silva, and Gustavo Reyna on Wednesday, April 13 4:00-5:30pm. Event began at the Peterson Memorial Library located at Walla Walla University.* 

Join The Listeners Project: Queremos Escucharte for a self-directed and interactive walking tour that navigates the stories of Latinx immigrants living in the Walla Walla Valley. Participants will listen to the recorded stories of Estela Muro, Erika Silva and Gustavo Reyna, walking with them through the struggles and demands that members of our community face day by day. Moments for reflection, dialog and exchange will be provided along the way.  

The Two Steps Beyond series is intended to challenge each of the walking-listeners to dig in depth about the issues that condition the experiences of members of the Latinx community inside and outside the United States.  

Poner los Pies en la Tierra: Two Steps Beyond, una caminata interactiva presentando las historias de Estela Muro, Erika Silva y Gustavo Reyna. Comenzó Miércoles 13 de abril, 4:00-5:30pm, en la Biblioteca Peterson Memorial localizada en la Universidad de Walla Walla.* 

Únete a The Listeners Project: Queremos Escucharte para una caminata autodirigida e interactiva que navega las historias de migrantes Latinxs viviendo en el Valle de Walla Walla. Los participantes escucharán grabaciones de las historias de Estela Muro, Erika Silva y Gustavo Reyna, caminando con ellos a través de luchas y las demandas que los miembros de de nuestra comunidad enfrentan día a día. Momentos de reflección, diálogo e intercambio serán provistos a través del camino.  

La serie Two Steps Beyond pretende retar a cada uno de los participantes a indagar a profundidad acerca de los problemas que condicionan las experiencias de los miembros de la comunidad Latinx dentro y fuera de los Estados Unidos.  

5th annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference April 13-16, 2021 - "What Does Equity Look Like?"

On Tuesday, April 13, at 11 a.m., Rebecca Parshall will present “Reckoning with Racial Equity: It’s Time.” Parshall is a doctor of philosophy candidate in educational administration and policy at the University of Georgia, is program officer at Learn4Life, and is a leader with the Change Action Networks. Watch Parshall’s recorded presentation.

A world-renowned specialist on social impacts on public health, Dr. David R. Williams, will present the conference keynote address, “Social Inequities in Health and What We Can Do About Them,” on Wednesday, April 14, at 5 p.m. Williams is the Norman Professor of Public Health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a professor of African and African American studies at Harvard University. His prior faculty appointments were at Yale University and the University of Michigan. The author of more than 500 scientific papers, his research has enhanced our understanding of the ways in which social factors, including, stress, race, economic status, racism, health behavior, and religious involvement can affect health. Watch Williams’ recorded presentation.

On Thursday, April 15, at 3:30 p.m., Dr. Donald Blake will present “Equity and Respect for All People.” The Donald Blake Center at WWU is named in honor of Blake who was a member of the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences from 1962 to 1969. When Blake accepted the position at WWU, he was one of the first Black tenure track faculty to be hired at a predominately white Seventh-day Adventist college or university. His teaching positions include serving on the faculty of Oakwood University, University of Rhode Island, Ohio State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Kentucky State University, and University of Hartford. He has also held administrative positions in higher education, including vice president for academic affairs at Kentucky State University and dean of instruction at Mississippi Valley State University. Watch Blake's recorded presentation.


4th annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference May 14-15, 2020 [CANCELED]

Claudia Castro Luna, the 2018–2021 Washington state poet laureate, was scheduled to present as the keynote speaker in-person on May 14, 2020 at 7:00pm in the Walla Walla University Church before the COVID-19 Quarantine forced the event to be canceled. When she was 14, Claudia Castro Luna fled with her family from civil war in El Salvador. After earning a master of fine arts degree in poetry and a master’s degree in urban planning, Castro Luna worked as a K–12 teacher before being appointed by the mayor of Seattle as the city’s first Civic Poet. She is the author of the poetry chapbook “This City” and the collection “Killing Marías.” Castro Luna has also received national acclaim for her Seattle Poetic Grid, an online interactive map showcasing poems about different locations around the city. Castro Luna was appointed in 2018 as Washington state poet laureate. She will speak for the Donald Blake Center Academic Conference on the subject of immigration.

3rd annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference April 11-12, 2019

On April 11, 2019 at 7:00pm in the Walla Walla University Church, Terrence J. Roberts gave his keynote presentation for the Donald Blake Center Spring Conference. Terrence J. Roberts, Ph.D. is one of the “Little Rock Nine” who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. As a 15 year old eleventh grader, he joined eight other students and became one of the first nine black students to go to a formerly segregated public high school in Little Rock.

Read Dr. Roberts' bio >

2nd annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference April 19-20, 2018

Keynote: Benjamin Madley

On April 19, 2018, Benjamin Madley gave his keynote presentation at the Walla Walla University Church for the Donald Blake Center Spring Conference. Professor Madley is the Associate Professor of History, University of California at Los Angeles, and the author of An American Genocide: the United States and the Californian Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873

University of California at Los Angeles Faculty Profile >

Inaugural Donald Blake Center Academic Conference April 20-21, 2017

On April 20, 2017, George Yancy gave his keynote presentation at the Walla Walla University Church for the first ever Donald Blake Center Spring Conference. George Yancy is a Professor at Emory University, and the Philosophy of Race Book Series Editor, Lexington Books.

Emory University Faculty Profile

George Yancy's Personal Webpage