A Pledge to Preserve History
"I've just returned from Austin," says Takei with a chuckle. "A group of Trekkies in full Starfleet uniform came out and greeted me!"
Takei was in Texas to speak with prospective backers for his lifelong dream: A Broadway production of Allegiance, a musical he developed about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
He knows the subject well: During the war, Takei and his family were pulled from their Los Angeles home and forced to live in camps, first in Arkansas and later in Northern California.
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"I'm always surprised," he says, and for the first time that levity in his voice drops away, "by the number of Americans who, when I tell them about my childhood incarceration, say, 'I had no idea something that terrible happened here in the United States.'"
He continues: "I think it is a gravely important part of American history, because I think in order to make our democracy a better democracy, we have to learn from where we've failed."
Takei confesses that most of his latter-day media forays have been aimed at ultimately drawing attention to both Allegiance — which he expects to open in New York next spring — and the history it portrays. But he's also enjoyed his pioneering role as one of the most consistently quotable figures on Twitter.
Some of his tweets became instant classics
"Pot legalized in two states, and the maker of Twinkies shutters its doors?" he tweeted last year. "Now that's IRONY."
"TN bill will prevent teachers from using the word 'gay' in class. In response, I'm lending them my name: 'It's okay to be Takei.'"
It's the enforced brevity of Twitter, with its challenging 140-character limit, that delights Takei.
"As I suspect you may have gathered by now," he says, "I am a garrulous, long-winded raconteur!"
George Takei is laughing again, and so are we.
Bill Newcott is a writer, editor and movie critic for AARP Media.
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