Community Read: Keynote Lecture

Keynote Lecture: Yukiko Llewellyn and Karen Su

Yuki Llewellyn was interned at a Japanese-American internment camp as a young child. This lecture focuses on her experiences in the internment camp and also focuses on Yuki's story in a children's picture book called Yuki Speaks Out being written by Karen Su. Yuki worked at U of I for 37 years and served as Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Registered Student Organizations at U of I for 22 years, retiring in 2002. Karen is a faculty member of Global Asian Studies at UIC. 


Yuki Llewellyn was born Helen Yukiko Okinaga on April 22, 1939, in Los Angeles, California. She and her mother Mikiko Hayakawa were sent to Manzanar Assembly Center in March 1942, and were released in October, 1945 when they moved to Cleveland, Ohio. She was known as Yukiko Hayakawa her entire life up until she married in 1965. That was when she first saw her birth certificate and her official birth name of Okinaga. Her parents had been separated before Pearl Harbor so Yuki never knew her father. Yuki worked at the University of Illinois for 37 years. She served as Director of Registered Organization and Assistant Dean of Students. She retired on June 1, 2002. She remained active for many years in the Champaign-Urbana community, serving on various community boards including the Advisory Board of the Asian American Cultural Center., before moving to Columbia, Missouri to be near her son David, his wife Mandy, and their three children Madison Midori, Stewart Kirin, and Duncan Ozeki. David and Mandy graduated from Champaign Central High School and David received his B,S. degree in advertising from U of I. Everyone in the family are avid Illini fans.

Karen Su grew up in Massachusetts, the child of immigrant Chinese parents. She learned about Japanese American internment in high school, not from her U.S. history class, but from her friend Blake Suzuki whose family had been incarcerated during WWII. She went on to study Asian American literature in graduate school and has been involved in developing Asian American Studies programs since then. She also served as the founding director of two student centers, the Pan-Asian American Community House at University of Pennsylvania and the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently a clinical assistant professor in the Global Asian Studies Program at UIC and serves as the project director of the UIC Asian American and Native American Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Initiative. Karen met Yuki at AACC's fifth anniversary and wanted to write a children's book of Yuki's story so that more young readers have an opportunity to learn about this important part of U.S. history. Karen is working on a series of children's picture books on the life stories of Asian American women. 

About the Community Read

Julie Otsuka's stunning book, When the Emperor was Divine, details the experiences of a family with the Japanese internment camps set up by the U.S. government following Pearl Harbor. In partnership with the Asian American Cultural Center, the YWCA of the University of Illinois is coordinating a Community Read of a book that challenges us to think more deeply about the lives of Japanese-Americans, our own American history, and today’s politically-charged atmosphere of xenophobia and fear.

The iSchool is proud to be a sponsor of Community Read.


Champaign Public Library


YWCA, campus & community sponsors (iSchool)

Event Date: 

Wed, 11/15/2017 -
7:00pm to 8:00pm

If you will need disability-related accommodations in order to participate, please email the contact person. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.