Rev. Lloyd Wake and Asian/Pacific-Islander (API) Organizing

Rev. Lloyd Wake was born in 1922 in Reedley, California to Japanese immigrant parents. In 1942-1943, during World War II, Wake and his family were incarcerated at the Poston Relocation Center in Arizona. He says of that time:

Curiously enough, but understandably, during the internment and for some years after I didn’t express bitterness or anger about the years at Poston Relocation Center. Most of my generation was programmed to accept whatever happened to us quietly and submissively.259

While at Poston, Wake became friends with a minister who later convinced him to join the ministry. From 1946 to 1948, Wake attended seminary at Asbury College in Willmore, Kentucky (the same school Lizzie Glide helped fund).260 Asbury’s policy of excluding African Americans inspired Wake to pursue social justice issues later in life. Following Asbury, he received his Divinity degree from the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (now the American Baptist Seminary of the West). From 1950 to 1967, Wake was minister at the Pine Street Methodist Church in San Francisco (1329 Pine Street), known as the “mother church” of all Japanese American Methodist Churches in the US.261

In 1963, while still ministering at Pine Street Church, Lloyd Wake was invited to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Glide Foundation—a position that changed the course of Wake’s life. He says:

I began to see the way in which a church can have an impact on its congregation, its youth, its surrounding ghettoes. Glide was life-affirming, non-traditional and non-ecclesiastical. We at Pine began to understand the importance of being involved in human and social issues…. We began to come out of ourselves.262

Wake left Pine Street Church to join the ministry at Glide ministry in 1967, becoming Minister of Community Life. The following year he participated in the five-month-long student-led strike at San Francisco State University, the longest campus strike in US history. The strike was led by SFSU students and faculty and community activists demanding “equal access to public higher education, more senior faculty of color and a new curriculum that would embrace the history and culture of all people including ethnic minorities.”263 The strike resulted in the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU and similar classes and programs across the country. Wake notes that the experience was first time he had become “heavily involved in a cause:”

Students of all backgrounds were struggling with their own identities and they needed help. The most marvelous thing, to me, was that Asian students were asking support from the Asian community. Kids whose parents had been silent about Manzanar, Poston, Tule Lake, were demanding to know. And we responded—after all those years…. I joined their picket lines, spoke at their rallies, mobilized family and friends in their behalf. We united and gave birth to a wonderful creature—Asian consciousness.264

After the strike, Wake joined with Janice Mirikitani, a fellow incarceration camp survivor, and API students to publish an anthology of Asian-American poetry, essays and graphics called Aion. His other contributions while at Glide include: supporting and supervising the alternate civilian service of 30 conscientious objectors; and performing covenant services for gay, lesbian, and transgender partners beginning in the late 1960s.265