The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 – A Long Time Coming

August 10, 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (download a PDF of the actual bill), the legislation that provided redress and reparations for the forced removal and unjust incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans in American concentration camps, and other confinement sites, during World War II.

Former incarcerees who were still alive on August 10, 1988, or their immediate family members, were eligible to receive the $20,000 individual reparations payment. A $50 million education fund was also created as a part of the legislation.

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Honoring The Powerful, Immeasurable Legacy Left By Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (left) with Manzanar Committee member Gann Matsuda at the
annual Day of Remembrance program in
Los Angeles on February 17, 2018.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Alisa Lynch

I’ve been “forced” to recall how I got started as a community activist quite a bit lately.

Indeed, back in June, when NCRR (Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress; originally the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations) held their event to launch their new book about their incredible, highly impactful history, it reminded me of all the activists who came before me who have been mentors and teachers for my own community activism.

On the morning of July 19, I received word that Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga passed away the night before. She was just a little over a month away from celebrating her 93rd birthday.

Aiko is well-known in the Japanese American, Asian American, and broader civil rights communities for her tireless work for social justice since her time in New York after she was one of the 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated in American concentration camps and other confinement sites during World War II.

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Manzanar Committee Decries President Trump’s Racist Attacks on Immigrant Children and Families

The children and infants in this photograph were among the 101 orphans who were incarcerated at
Children’s Village at the Manzanar concentration camp during World War II. They were among
more than 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans who were falsely targeted as threats to
national security by the United States Government.
(click above to view larger image)
Public domain photo via Densho.org.


LOS ANGELES — On June 25, the Manzanar Committee, sponsors of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969 and the more recent Manzanar At Dusk program for the last 21 years, denounced the policies and actions by President Donald Trump and his administration that have either separated children of immigrants entering the United States from their families or needlessly incarcerated immigrants, individually or as families.

Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey noted the striking similarities between the current attacks on immigrants and the unjust incarceration of more than 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans in concentration camps and other confinement sites during World War II.

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Some Thoughts About NCRR’s Impact As They Publish a New Book About Their History

Community members marched through Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo
during a Day of Protest, held in August 1989.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda

As the movement for redress and reparations for the more than 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated or otherwise forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II began to gain steam in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, different views on how to win redress emerged. Some might say that those divergent views became wide chasms. But in the end, those different paths to achieve victory came together, for the most part, and necessarily so.

One of those divergent views was that the people had to be part of the movement, that organizing the community on a grass-roots level would be critical if redress was to be achieved and it was NCRR that led the way in that regard.

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