GLIDE Co-Founder, SF Poet Laureate Janice Mirikitani Has Passed Away
A true San Francisco hero and fierce warrior for justice has passed into the great beyond.
GLIDE put out a press release on Thursday evening confirming the sad news that Janice Mirikitani had passed away earlier in the day.
Janice’s list of accomplishments is astounding. Besides co-founding GLIDE with her husband Rev. Cecil Williams, she, served as a commissioner on the San Francisco Arts Commission. Janice was the recipient of more than 50 awards and honors, including the Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women and Families’ “Minerva Award,” San Francisco State University’s “Distinguished Alumnae Award,” the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s “Lifetime Achievement Ebbie Award,” the prestigious American Book “Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature,” and the University of California at San Francisco Chancellor’s “Medal of Honor Award.”
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Below is the press release sent out by GLIDE:
GLIDE is deeply saddened to confirm that our beloved Co-Founder, Janice Mirikitani, passed away early Thursday morning, July 29, 2021. Our hearts are full with both grief and the tremendous love that she embodied. She brought fierce courage and spirit to everything she did. She spoke her truth and inspired others to accept and celebrate themselves, each other, and all our differences.
For nearly 60 years, Mirikitani worked to build GLIDE into a groundbreaking social justice, social services, and spiritually guided organization known around the world for providing compassionate and unconditional support for San Francisco’s poor and marginalized communities.
A third generation Japanese American, Mirikitani was a visionary whose creative endeavors as a poet and editor earned her literary accolades and the title of San Francisco Poet Laureate. As a committed community activist, Mirikitani used her creativity and compassion to develop innovative programs at GLIDE focused on women and families as they face issues of substance abuse, rape, incest, domestic violence, AIDS, single parenting, childcare and employment.
“Janice was a force of nature,” said GLIDE President and CEO Karen Hanrahan. “She was fearless and transformational in the honesty with which she loved us all and held us all accountable. Janice’s legacy and her unique, powerful voice is all around us. It will continue to inspire GLIDE’s work as we transform hearts and minds, and the landscape of poverty and homelessness, in San Francisco.”
GLIDE stands for unconditional love, radical acceptance and social justice – three values that were keenly important to Janice,” said Kaye Foster, Chair of the GLIDE Foundation Board of Trustees. “Her life experience as someone who suffered discrimination and marginalization helped form her core beliefs and endless empathy for others experiencing difficult circumstances. Janice’s values and spirit are forever part of GLIDE.”
Memorial plans are being arranged, and updates will be shared at glide.org/in-loving-memory. We welcome the community’s support and tributes to Janice at this time of grief and celebration of her life and work. In keeping with Janice’s wishes, donations can be made in her memory to support GLIDE’s Women and Children’s programs at glide.org/honorjanice. The public is also welcomed to leave messages, photos and comments sharing memories of Janice and GLIDE on our Facebook page.
About Janice Mirikitani, GLIDE Co-Founder and Founding President
Janice Mirikitani was the Co-Founder and Founding President of GLIDE where she, in partnership with her husband, Reverend Cecil Williams, achieved worldwide recognition for empowering San Francisco’s poor and marginalized communities to make meaningful changes in their lives to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. For nearly 60 years, they built comprehensive programs that provide education, recovery support, primary and mental health care, job training, and housing. Mirikitani’s passion was to create programs for women and families as they struggle with issues related to health, wellbeing, and safety.
Mirikitani worked in civil rights and social justice causes for various multi-ethnic communities, including for redress for Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII. She and her family were incarcerated in a concentration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas with the mass internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.
Mirikitani was appointed San Francisco’s second Poet Laureate in 2000. She authored four books of poetry — AWAKE IN THE RIVER; SHEDDING SILENCE; WE, THE DANGEROUS; and LOVE WORKS — and is the editor of nine landmark anthologies which provide platforms for writers of color, women, youth and children. Mirikitani is the co-author of the recently released BEYOND THE POSSIBLE: 50 Years of Creating Radical Change in a Community Called GLIDE with Rev. Williams and authored OUT OF THE DUST: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, released in 2014 with University of Hawaii Press.
Mirikitani served as a commissioner on the San Francisco Arts Commission from 2004. She is the recipient of more than 50 awards and honors, including the Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women and Families’ “Minerva Award,” San Francisco State University’s “Distinguished Alumnae Award,” the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s “Lifetime Achievement Ebbie Award,” the prestigious American Book “Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature,” and the University of California at San Francisco Chancellor’s “Medal of Honor Award.”
Mirikitani graduated from UCLA, received a teaching credential from UC Berkeley, and has received three honorary doctorate degrees.
Janice Mirikitani is survived by her husband Rev. Cecil Williams, her daughter, Tianne Tsukiko Feliciano, and her grandson Nicholas Feliciano.