Ann Yasuhara: NIOT co-founder

ANN with banner at SAR Leticia Fraga Nadler

Ann Yasuhara was born to privilege — to white privilege, as she would say. As was I, her cousin.

Ann combined her Quaker faith with action focused on peace, the environment, social justice, and racial equality. Of her many causes, Not in Our Town was very close to her heart. She was a co-founder of this interracial, inter-faith social action group dedicated to racial justice, and she galvanized its members to create useful, powerful programs, many of them on the topic of white privilege.

Ann died on June 11, and there will be a memorial service at the Princeton Friends Meeting on Saturday, July 5, at 2 p.m. Memorial gifts may be made to any of the charities she supported.

Here is the obituary as printed in the Times of Trenton on July 2, 2014. A lengthier account of her life appeared in Town Topics and on the Princeton Comment blog .


Her biography as it will be printed in the memorial service program:

A logician and computer scientist, Ann combined her Quaker faith with action focused on peace, social justice, racial equality, and the environment. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, she studied cooking and fashion design in Paris, attended Swarthmore College,and earned bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in mathematics from the University of Illinois.

In 1970 Ann and her husband, Mitsuru, settled in a cozy little house and garden in Princeton and pursued their vibrant interests in mathematics, music, and art. Ever adventurous, they traveled widely, including regular trips to visit his family in Japan. Perhaps her favorite place was her garden. In 1972 Ann joined the new department of computer science at Rutgers University, where she was an associate professor and wrote a textbook, Recursive Function Theory and Logic.

Although her commitment to being Quaker became a priority in her life, Ann was inspired by wisdoms of Eastern Traditions through her practice of Tai Chi Chuan and Soto Zen Meditation.She supported the mission of the annual Peace Walk of the Buddhist monks and nuns of the New England Peace Pagoda journey by organizing meals and an overnight stay at Princeton Friends Meeting.

Within the Society of Friends she served terms at Princeton Friends Meeting as Clerk of the Meeting and clerk of the committee on Peace and Social Concerns. She also served on committees in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, including the working group on Conscience, Militarism, and War Tax Concerns, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Deepening & Strengthening Committee, the Listening Committee, and Call to Action. Ann belonged to the Pendle Hill Working Pamphlets Group, and the programs she attended reflect the broad range of her interests — in philosophy, Quaker faith and practice, science, history, peace, and social justice.

Unflagging in her resistance to war and violence, she studied the philosophy and methods of non-violent resolution of conflict with George Lakey and led many training groups and action activities. She gave talks on Quaker nonviolent activists — on Bayard Rustin for the annual session of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and on Alice Paul and the Women’s Suffrage Movement at the Princeton Public Library. Most recently she enthusiastically supported — and went on protests with — the nonviolent direct action group, Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), in its efforts to end mountaintop removal coal mining. On her 79th birthday she protested on a strenuous mountain climb in West Virginia mining country. In January, just before she was diagnosed with cancer, EQAT honored her as one of its outstanding “wise elders.”

Within the Princeton community, she helped found Silent Prayers for Peace, the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF), and Not in Our Town (NIOT), an interracial, interfaith social action group committed to racial justice. Through NIOT programs at the Princeton Public Library, she helped develop thought provoking community discussions on race, social justice, the environment, and the preventionof bullying. She served on the Minority Education Committee and was instrumental in providing grounding for such groups as Committed and Faithful Princetonians that honor and support youth of diverse backgrounds.

Ann’s parents were Julian Earl Harris, a noted French language professor at the University of Wisconsin who was awarded the French Legion of Honor, and Elizabeth Marshall Harris, a sculptor. She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Mitsuru; many cousins including her neighbor, Barbara Fox, and Erica Fox Gehrig; her godchildren Josue Rivera-0lds, Grecia N. Rivera, and Julio R. Rivera; many nephews and nieces, and a loving extended family of neighbors, friends, and fellow activists.


I am proud to be her cousin…  BFF

In the photo of a Stand Against Racism demonstration, taken by Leticia Nadler, Ann is on the far left

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One Comment on “Ann Yasuhara: NIOT co-founder

  1. Pingback: Princeton Comment

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