VIDEO: The First Manzanar Pilgrimage – 1969

Participants in the first organized Manzanar Pilgrimage in 1969
(click above to view larger image)
National Park Service Photo/Evan Johnson Collection

In 1969, approximately 150 people, mostly Japanese American college students, made the 230-mile trip to the site of the Manzanar concentration camp where 11,070 Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants (who were prevented by racist laws from naturalizing) were unjustly incarcerated during World War II.

Their journey was the first organized Manzanar Pilgrimage, which has become an annual event since then. This film, by Don and Ron Rundstrom, documents that first Pilgrimage and through the use of historic photographs from the Japanese American incarceration experience, the film also attempts to provide the historical context for that first Pilgrimage.

Due to the fact that this film deteriorated over time, the video quality is poor. Also, before you think there’s something wrong with your playback device, this film was shot without audio. The second film contains color footage (also no audio) that did not make the cut, but is still very revealing.

You can watch the films below.

© 1970 Zumai Film, Don and Ron Rundstrom. All rights reserved. Permission granted to the Manzanar Committee for distribution.

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