Michael Makoto “Mike” Honda (Japanese: 本田実; born June 27, 1941) serves as the U.S. Representative for California’s 17th congressional district, known as Silicon Valley, which is the only Asian American-majority district in the continental United States. The district encompasses all or part of the cities of Cupertino, Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, Santa Clara, San Jose, and Sunnyvale. He is a member of the Democratic Party and has been serving in Congress since 2001.
A third generation Japanese American (“sansei”), Honda was born in Walnut Grove, California in 1941. When he was one year old, he and his family were sent to Camp Amache, a Japanese American internment camp in southeastern Colorado. This experience shaped much of his career and political work, and compelled him to fight for those less fortunate than others, to provide opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, religious preferences, or sexual orientation, and to prevent injustices like this from ever occurring again. According to Honda, it was during these years spent within the camp that he learned being of Asian descent carried with it negative connotations in the United States, and that minority citizens, even legal, law-abiding ones, face a constant struggle for equality. In 1953 his family returned to California, where they became strawberry sharecroppers in Blossom Valley in San Jose.
Honda started at Andrew P. Hill High School, then transferred to, and graduated from, San Josė High Academy. He entered San Josė State University, but interrupted his studies from 1965 to 1967 to serve in the United States Peace Corps in El Salvador, where he learned to speak Spanish. He returned to San Jose State, where in 1968 he received a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and Spanish. He earned a Master’s degree in Education from San Jose State in 1974. In his 30-year career as an educator, Honda was a science teacher, a principal at two public schools, a school board member, and he conducted educational research at Stanford University.
Honda’s wife, Jeanne, was a teacher at Baldwin Elementary School in San José. She passed away in 2004. He has two children: Mark, an aerospace engineer, and Michelle, a public health educator in San Jose. Michelle is the mother of Honda’s three grandsons.