Known for: For 26 years, Robert Matsui, a Sacramento native, represented the 5th Congressional District. He was a leader in improving flood protection for the area and helped pass the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.
Background: During most of World War II, Matsui and his family were confined in the Tule Lake internment camp. He graduated from McClatchy High School in 1959 before earning degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and Hastings College of the Law. Matsui won his Greenhaven-area City Council seat in 1971, the first Japanese American elected to the council. He was elected to Congress in 1978. Ten years later, he co-authored a bill that gave $20,000 apiece in cash reparations and an apology to surviving Japanese American internees. He was re-elected to Congress 13 times before dying of complications from a rare blood disorder.
A highlight: "It's a very emotional day for us," Matsui said when President Reagan signed the reparations bill into law. "It demonstrates that we as a nation do believe in the Constitution and the rights of individuals."
In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.