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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Exploring Manzanar: Then and Now

One of the inscriptions in the wall of the Manzanar Reservoir written by a Japanese
American incarceree who worked on the reservoir crew.
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

During a recent solo trip to the Manzanar National Historic Site in which I spent about 14 hours over roughly two days exploring the site by car and foot, it dawned on me that it was the first time that I was exploring the site in such a detailed fashion or spending as much time doing so.

That realization was spurred by a comment made by Manzanar ranger Rose Masters.

“I can’t believe you’ve never wandered around like this before,” she exclaimed (yes, “exclaimed” is the appropriate verb here).

For those of you who know me fairly well, that must sound really, really strange, if not unbelievable. After all, I’ve been involved with Manzanar for more than 31 years. I’ve been a member of the Manzanar Committee since the mid-1990’s. I served on the Manzanar Advisory Commission from 1992-2002. I’ve been one of the coordinators for the Manzanar At Dusk program since 2008, and now I’m one of the coordinators of a project, tentatively named, Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive, which I urge you to read about here.
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Keeping Japanese American Incarceree Stories Alive – Pilot Project A Huge Success

Students listening to a presentation on the Manzanar “Riot.” Seated around the table (foreground,
from front to back): Erica Wei (left), Lauren Matsumoto (right), Brian Kohaya (back left),
Moet Kurakata (back middle), Maru Streets (back right).
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

by Jason Fujii and Wendi Yamashita

Last summer, the Manzanar Committee, in partnership with National Park Service staff at Manzanar National Historic Site, launched a new project, Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive, to take college-age youth to the Manzanar National Historic Site for an intensive, place-based learning experience about the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Initiated by National Park Service Ranger Rose Masters and generously funded by community donations through a crowdfunding campaign, along with a few individual donations, this pilot project sought to address and bridge the generation gap—recent immigrant families from Japan and their children also have no direct connection to this history—that has made it difficult for young Japanese Americans to teach others about this important history.

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How The Japanese American Community Should Commemorate the 76th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

The Soul Consoling Tower marks the cemetery at the
Manzanar National Historic Site.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: National Park Service

LOS ANGELES — On this day, the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, many Japanese Americans will grit their teeth, expecting to see anti-Japanese comments, not to mention the racial slurs and racist comments that our community has had to endure for our entire history, and given the current political and social climate following the 2016 Presidential election, hate-based attacks are far more frequent and violent.

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