Uncle Gunjiro’s Girlfriend by Brenda Wong Aoki – (An Illegal Interracial Union)
I was almost blown away by this story. I say almost because having researched vintage interracial marriage and relationships, I have seen so many similar stories except that it is usually between black and whites. I am still a sucker for happy endings. Read the amazing story of Helen Gladys (Emery) Aoki and Gunjiro Aoki, pictured in March 1909. She lost her citizenship for marrying a Japanese man as interracial marriage was prohibited even in Washington State at this time. Fascinating and awesome love. The story told by great niece Brenda Wong Aoki at History Link.org
Helen Gladys (Emery) Aoki, 1909
This is the family story of Gunjiro Aoki (b. 1883) and Gladys Emery (b. 1888), an interracial (Japanese American and Caucasian) couple who wed in Seattle on March 27, 1909, after traveling from California and Oregon, which prohibited mixed-race marriages and declined to issue them a license. “Uncle Gunjiro’s Girlfriend” is written by the couple’s great niece, Brenda Wong Aoki. (Aoki’s grandfather, Father Peter C. Aoki, founded the Japanese mission in San Francisco and was Gunjiro Aoki’s brother.) Aoki’s story is reprinted with kind permission from Nikkei Heritage (Vol. 10, No. 4, Fall 1998), the journal of the Japanese American Heritage Society. Brenda Wong Aoki is a professional actor and storyteller of Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Scots descent.