We are saddened by the news of Tamio Wakayama’s passing on March 23, 2018. Tamio was a photojournalist for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the American civil rights movement and brought his experience and spirit to renewed activism in the Japanese Canadian community in the late 1970s.  As Powell Street Festival’s main photographer for many years, he captured the heart of our annual gathering — its diversity and energy of celebration and empowerment.

On the SNCC Digital Gateway website, Tamio says, “You’ve got to be able to say, I refuse. I’m not what they are saying. I am a human being…and that has been the essence of my struggle, and of my art, my photography, throughout my life.”

His greatest gift to Powell Street Festival Society was the creation of Kikyo: Coming Home to Powell Street (1992), an exhibition and book that documents Powell Street Festival’s first 15 years. Tamio’s festival photographs are archived in the Powell Street Festival fonds at Nikkei Museum.


Image via Randy Enomoto