Preserving Our Voices for the Future - remembering the legacy of Japanese American incarceration
On February 19th, Japanese Americans will acknowledge the National Day of Remembrance for U.S. Executive Order 1066. This Executive Order was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and led to the incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. In 2022, President Biden officially made February 19th the National Day of Remembrance of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II. In honor of this day, we have compiled a list of resources to help you learn more about the incarceration of Japanese Americans.
There are a number of resources and links within the Densho website including:
- A free on-line comprehensive resource about the history of the Japanese American WWII exclusion and incarceration experience
- Promote Equity Today - putting the lessons learned from the incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII into action
Catalyst provides a number of online essays such as:
- Japanese Peruvian Americans before WWII
- How the Asian American Movement Learned a Lesson in Liberation from the Black Panthers - an excerpt from Not Yo’ Butterfly: My Long Song of Relocation, Race, Love, and Revolution by Nobuko Miyamoto and edited by Deborah Wong (University of California Press, 2021)
Inventing the “Model Minority”: A Critical Timeline and Reading List
- A new collaboration between TED-Ed and Densho created a short (6 minute) film and lesson that traces the origins of the model minority myth and the damage it causes. It’s a complex topic to squeeze into just six minutes, so they have compiled some additional resources to help you dig a little deeper.
- Densho’s YouTube Channel has a number of videos including the series on Redress and Reparations
The project was formed in 1991 by former Japanese Peruvian internees and their families to preserve the remembrances of those who were forcibly taken from Peru and interned in concentration camps in Panama and the United States during World War II. By documenting these family oral histories, JPOHP strives to deepen our understanding of the rich texture of our past -- with the hope that such violations of civil and human rights not be repeated by any government during times of peace or war.
Through educational outreach and grassroots organizing, the CFJ has helped to inform the public – in the US and internationally – about WWII internment history and redress efforts of the JLAs so that lessons from the past can be applied to prevent and to secure accountability for present day and future violations of civil and human rights. They sponsor a number of events, exhibitions and grassroots advocacy for redress justice.
- Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story is a documentary produced by CFJ
The Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium (JACSC) is comprised of organizations committed to collectively preserving, protecting, and interpreting the history of the World War II experiences of Japanese Americans and elevating the related social justice lessons that inform current issues today. Members include the ten War Relocation Authority confinement sites, as well as historical organizations, endowments, museums, commissions, and educational institutes, including Densho.
National Park Service
- They also have the National Park Services JAC grant program
- The JACS grants provide funds for the preservation and interpretation of incarceration sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. A summary of 2021 grants can be found here.
Their YouTube Channel has an extensive collection of videos.
Now in its 30th year, JANM was founded to preserve and share the history of Japanese Americans. Its mission evolved to enhance appreciation for America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by documenting the stories of Americans of Japanese ancestry as an integral component of U.S. history. It is an official affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and in 2010 received the National Medal for Museum and Library Services, America’s highest honor for museums.
On 14 April,2022 JANM was awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Telling the Full History Preservation Fund in support of its exhibition “BeHere/ 942: A New Lens on the Japanese American Incarceration,” curated by Japanese media artist Masaki Fujihata and presented by JANM and the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA. The centerpiece of this exhibition is JANM’s Historic Building, the former Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Built by Japanese immigrants in 1925, the temple was transformed into a place of pain, humiliation, and anxiety about an uncertain future in America when individuals of Japanese ancestry gathered there to board buses for unknown destinations after being forcibly removed from their homes in May 1942.
In cooperation with a number of partners, including Densho, the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee’s College of Latin and American Studies is sponsoring a series of in-person and virtual events exploring forced incarceration and racism of Japanese Latin Americans.
- There is an associated exhibition: Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties at the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee
Some useful information on Japanese American and Black American Advocacy
There is a growing coalition of a number of organizations working together in support of H.R. 40, a federal bill to establish a commission to study reparations for Black American as well as collaborative advocacy for civil rights.
The two Caucuses sponsored an event in January with representatives from Nikkei Progressives, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, and Human Rights Watch on the history of the Japanese-American post-WWII Reparations and Black Reparations movements, how such redress has impacted both groups, and why we should continue fighting for this legislation at local, state, and national levels.
Reparations Then- Reparations Now was an event that coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians hearings, which marked a turning point in the Japanese American redress movement. As part of the event, it discussed how Black Americans supported the Japanese American struggle for redress and how Japanese Americans are working with Black American groups to pass H.R. 40. Read this article that provides an overview of the event.
Formed in 2016, Nikkei Progressives is a grassroots organization that is a leader in advocating for civil rights for all groups, including redress for Black Americans.
Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (formerly known as National Coalition for Redress/Reparations)
Founded in 1980 NCCR is a community organization committed to educating the public about the wartime injustices perpetrated on Japanese Americans by the U.S. government as well as supporting similar campaigns against injustice today. They, along with other community partners, played a key role in the Japanese American Redress Movement. They work closely with Nikkei Progressives on a number of fronts including redress for Black Americans. Kathy Masaoka, on behalf of both NCCR and NP testified on behalf of H.R. 40 last year. Read her testimony here: JAs Speak Up for H.R. 40: Commission on Reparations for Slavery and Its Legacy, Rafu Reports April 13, 2021
Remembering Yuri Kochiyama's Legacy: Her life as a political and feminist activist and champion for racial solidarity.
A virtual conversation on International Women's Day 2022 with Akemi Kochiyama and next generation intersectional activists, organizers, educators and leaders. Moderated by Jaimee Swift of Black Women Radicals.