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For 93-Year-Old Activist Grandmother, Clinton Candidacy Doubly Meaningful

UCLA student Alana Mouchard was watching the Democratic National Convention with her 93-year-old grandmother, Mitsuye Yamada, when she noticed tears in Yamada’s eyes. Moved herself, Mouchard snapped a picture to commemorate the moment and shared it on Twitter. It quickly went viral, garnering more than 9,000 likes and 3,000 retweets.

Yamada, a writer and professor, has spent much of her life as an activist in feminist and human rights movements. She told NBC News that as someone who devoted years of her life to the women’s movement, Hillary Clinton’s nomination was “thrilling.”

“For a person in the 90s who has been working in the women’s movement for many, many years, this is really huge,” she said. “I didn’t ever think that it would happen in my own lifetime, but here we are.”

Mouchard, the granddaughter, added that Clinton’s nomination was similarly a powerful moment for her, but that she was perhaps an anomaly amongst her peers.

“I think that as a younger person, I’m more acutely aware of what this means than some of my peers because I see my grandmother, and I know how long and how hard she worked for this,” Mouchard told NBC News. “I’ve grown up my whole life knowing this is a fight that still needs to be fought.”

Mouchard also noted aspects of another presidential campaign — Donald Trump’s — that struck a personal chord.

“Grandma was in a Japanese Internment camp in the 40s, and there’s so much similarity with the xenophobic rhetoric [in this election],” Mouchard said. “A lot of the rhetoric up until now has been focused on not letting immigrants into the country, which is a little different [from what MItsu experienced], but it still has such racism and xenophobia.”

“I think the fact that so many people support him is more alarming, actually,” Yamada added. “That there are so many people who are still supporting him is quite alarming for me.”

Mitsuye May Yamada with her mother Hide in 1943. Densho, Courtesy of the Yasutake Family Collection / Densho, Courtesy of the Yasutake Family Collection

Yamada said that she has been supporting Clinton for reasons beyond her gender or Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. She emphasized Clinton’s years of work “fighting for the rights of women and children.”

“She’s really an amazingly strong woman,” Yamada said. “She’s been vilified and attacked for many, many years, but she has such a thick skin. I think we’re very lucky to have a woman like this running for President.”

Mouchard agreed with her grandmother, saying, “People have been so negative towards her, but she’s been resilient, and she’s never gotten negative about her detractors. She leads by example.”

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After a primary election that saw Bernie Sanders captivate and motivate millennials, Mouchard knows that she may be in the minority, but is enthusiastic about Clinton nonetheless.

“I know a lot of my peers are begrudgingly with her, but I’m not. I’m with her,” Mouchard said. “I think that Hillary Clinton really can do amazing things with this country, and I’m excited for it. I’m not begrudgingly excited, I’m really excited.

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