B.Michael’s Eulogy for Haruko Kuroiwa Brown

B.Michael shares his remembrances about Haruko Kuroiwa Brown [b. 12 December 1921, d. 06 June 1996] at her Celebration of Life on June 17, 1996, in Manhattan, New York.

“Hello everyone, my name is Bert Hunter. I’m a New York City high school teacher and happen to be John’s lover. 

It was through John that I met Haruko. And what I didn’t want to do was just deal with her on a level as John’s lover / through APICHA. I was really trying to find some kind of way to connect to her in the boundaried way that I am sometimes and in the boundaried way that she is. Interestingly enough, because she worked at the Board of Education, we were able to build some kind of relationship around that.

We talked a lot about different books. She would lend me some books and I would lend her some books. And we talked a lot about, actually, my mother. I didn’t necessarily realize that she was a social worker. She’s like social working me sometimes. (laughter) It was interesting that she was able to do that because I’m usually the person who’s the ear for other people. So it’s rare that somebody has an opportunity to social-work me, if you will, or to counsel me and I believe that she, in fact, did do that. She gave me some incredible advice.

In addition to that, because I have a natural ability to social-work other people although I’m not a social worker, we actually did talk a lot about her family, her children, her life and her grandchildren. I knew her granddaughter immediate because of the red hair because I also have a brother who is a carrot top. No offense! (laughter) One trip, she was coming back talking about her granddaughter with the red hair. “My brother had red hair … ”

I’m kind of angry because of the power of this woman. This was an incredibly powerful woman, and this is a loss. I had the opportunity — I teach American History — and during the 50th anniversary of “the bombing,” I was trying to put that in perspective for my students and was running my mouth to John. “Oh, you should talk to Haruko.” I was almost like, Why? Because you meet people and you talk to people, and someone who’s so rich, has so many different sides of themselves to share with you that you don’t necessarily always tap into the sides. “You know, she was interned.” I was almost floored because, as a history teacher, it was hard for me to believe that someone who was interned was still alive and accessible, if you will.

She came to school the first time and she talked to the students. I should say the majority are Black and Latino, we have some white students, very few Asian students. And she held their attention for 20 minutes easy, talking about her life and experience and it was incredible. She came back a second time to a different type of class a year later, actually, last year. Again, she held their attention. She actually read her testimony that she gave to Congress on her experience as a person who was interned. Again, the room was silent. She asked me for feedback, how I thought it went. I told her it was phenomenal. I said it’s the kind of thing where, years from now, they will realize that they touched history. That she, in fact, was history and that they had an opportunity to experience it.

We again exchanged … I just found a new reader so I gave her a book, I think it was Family or The Matter of Life from J. California Cooper, a new author who I was exposed to. Even for myself, I was moved by the power that I recognized in her … ”