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About Lawson Inada

Lawson Fusao Inada

I'm a Sansei, and was born in Fresno in 1938. Father's people were sharecroppers but he became a dentist. Mother's father started the Fresno Fish Store. During the War we lived in "camps" in Fresno, Arkansas, and Colorado.

After the War, I went to Lincoln, then Edison High School. A non-Buddhist, I joined the Black and Chicano set. The main thing then was music: Johnny Ace, The Clovers, Little Walter, etc., and on into Pres and Bird. They made me want to "say" something.

After a year at Fresno State, I went to Cal (The Black Hawk, actually) and saw The Lady, Bud, Miles, and Coltrane, so when I got back to State I was studying the bass. Then Phil Levine got me interested in writing.

The bass became lost during subsequent stays in New York, New England, and the Midwest, but there are three Inadas with me now: Janet and the boys--Miles and Lowell.

We're living in Oregon, listening to the Great ones and singing.

Autobiographical note from the anthology Down at the Santa Fe Depot (1970)

Inada was born a third-generation Japanese American. In May 1942 his family joined over 1000,000 other Japanese-Americans in camps where they were confined for the duration of World War II. He was first incarcerated at the Fresno County Fairgrounds, then moved to a Concentration Camp in Arkansas, and finally interred at a camp in Colorado at the end of the war.

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