Norman Mineta is a man of many firsts: the first Asian American mayor of a major city (San Jose, California); the first Japanese American from the mainland to be elected to Congress; and the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet. But beyond these groundbreaking achievements, Mineta personifies the dreams and aspirations of many Americans. A US citizen by birth, he was imprisoned by his own country for his Japanese ancestry, yet he steadfastly remained a patriot, leading a Congressional effort for an apology from the U.S. government and redress for Japanese Americans, 120,000 of whom were imprisoned during the war. That effort finally came to fruition when the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

Watch his story on Norman Mineta And His Legacy: An American Story, tonight at 9pm on WGBH 2.