The staff of Gidra in 1974. (Illustration by Suzy Partridge)
Fifty years ago, the first issue of the ’70s groundbreaking zine called Gidra was published and distributed to Asian American youth across Southern California.
Gidra was the first newspaper of its kind to explore the important issues of identity and politics during the turbulent times of the Vietnam War and the struggle for Asian American studies on college campuses. Issues included art, poetry and essays that expressed a point of view that was excluded from the mainstream press.
Founded by student activists Dinora Gil, Laura Ho, Tracy Okida, Colin Watanabe and Mike Murase, the paper became an important voice for Asian Americans across the country. During the five-year life of Gidra, individuals like Evelyn Yoshimura, Doug Aihara, Steve Tatsukawa, Jeff Furumura, Bruce Iwasaki, Duane Kubo, Alan Ota and others were critical to its survival.
Also, Gidra would not have been what it was without artists and illustrators who made significant contributions: Alan Takemoto, David Monkawa, Dean Toji, Glen Iwasaki and others.
In 2012, the Japanese American National Museum featured Gidra in a program and exhibition called “Drawing the Line.” In addition to the exhibition, issues of the zine are an important resource for researchers and have been made available online by Densho (www.densho.org).
Visual Communications, the nonprofit media center in Little Tokyo, is awarding Gidra with the Cornerstone Award along with Walt Louie and Jessica Yu at “Past/Forward,” its 49th-anniversary gala, on May 18 at the Los Angeles Grand Hotel Downtown.
“We are pleased to honor and recognize Gidra as a history-making publication,” said Francis Cullado, VC executive director. “In fact, many of the Visual Communications founders were part of the paper’s volunteer staff. In preparation for the event, we want to connect with as many of the over 300 people who worked on the paper to invite them to reunite and celebrate Gidra at the gala.”
For ticket information, contact Rachelle Samson at Visual Communications, (213) 680-4462, or visit the VC website: https://vcmedia.org/