I’d like to share a little with you about Franklin Odo, who passed away last week (1939-2022). Franklin was one of the founding figures of Asian American history and he taught and mentored countless Asian American students who went into academia, public service, and other walks of life. His research on Asian American life in Hawai’i broke ground in several new directions. In his federal government service, his powerful work at the Smithsonian (as director of the Asian Pacific American Center), the Library of Congress (as interim director of the Asian Division) and the National Park Service put Asian Americans into the national public history conversation. I wish you all could have known him and how outrageously funny he was. Likewise, he was formidable, politically savvy, and wise. Franklin inspired my brother, a student activist for ethnic studies, and changed my life as well. His influence and legacy run through my work with the UNC Asian American Center and the work of many of my colleagues around the country. I feel his loss keenly, but his work will never die.
-Heidi Kim, Director