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Japanese American writer expands artistic and historical diversity in San Luis Obispo County

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Author, poet Shizue Seigel
Tom Wilmer
Author, poet Shizue Seigel

Author and poet Shizue Seigel brings to light hidden narratives of people of color on the Central Coast, sharing class, culture and history.

Click "Listen" to hear the full interview. Shizue Seigel shares thoughts about “Food for Thought”, a multi-year effort to bring to light hidden narratives of race, class, culture and history on the Central Coast.

African American artist, Lorraine Bonner's clay work "Internalized Perpetration".
Dana Davis
African American artist, Lorraine Bonner's clay work "Internalized Perpetration".

Seigel says, “We want to empower ordinary people of color to value their own perceptions and experience and celebrate the richness they bring to the American story. An exhibit of art and poetry will be on view at the San Luis Obispo Library though June 5 before moving on to Camp San Luis Obispo, Hancock College and other venues. We hope to draw forth more local stories for exhibits and programs in spring of 2025."

Shizue Seigel’s family lived in Shell Beach until they were incarcerated during World War II and lost their 140-acre produce ranch there, along with property in San Luis Obispo’s Japantown.

 Seigel remembers her grandmother Umematsu Tsutsumi sharecropping strawberries for Driscoll’s in Morgan Hill and identifies strongly with the Latino, Filipino and other immigrants who still labor in the fields, hotels and kitchens of the Central Coast.

Seigel says, “My family was incarcerated because they were quiet humble people who kept to themselves. Few people knew or understood how much loyalty and gratitude they felt for the United States in spite of the prejudice they faced.”

Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer is featured on NPR.ORG's Podcast Directory
Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer is featured on NPR.ORG's Podcast Directory

 Seigel added, “We are working with the History Center of San Luis Obispo County and the SLO County Library to diversify the Central Coast narrative through film screenings, literary readings and exhibits of art and poetry by Latin, Black and Asian Americans. I invited established writers and artists from the San Francisco Bay Area and Watsonville to inspire local folks by speaking truth to injustice and sharing the powerful community and spiritual values that enrich their lives and those of the people around them."

You are invited to subscribe to the seven-time Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryApple Podcastand more than twenty other podcast hosting sites including iHeartRadio and Spotify


Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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