This article examines the political mobilization of Japanese Americans by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) against the 1969 firing of Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi. By challenging the racism in the Noguchi case, the JACL opened a public discussion of the racism behind wartime incarceration, rejecting the quiescence that had marked Japanese Americans as the “model minority.” Activism in the Noguchi case proved the potential of grassroots organizing and built experience in forming cross-racial political alliances, effectively shaping political narrative in the media, and exercising clout in city politics. For Japanese Americans and the JACL, these experiences shaped a new political sensibility that underscored civil rights and served as a precursor to the later redress movement.

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