Wilbur Sato To Receive Manzanar Committee’s 2018 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award

NCRR’s Kathy Masaoka (left) and Wilbur Sato (right) recite a poem during the 47th Annual
Manzanar Pilgrimage, April 30, 2016, at the Manzanar National Historic Site.
Photo: Mark Kirchner/Manzanar Committee

PILGRIMAGE: Bus transportation available, but seats are going fast

LOS ANGELES — On March 26, the Manzanar Committee announced that former Manzanar incarceree and long-time community activist Wilbur Sato has been named as the recipient of the 2018 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award.

The award, named after the late chair of the Manzanar Committee who was one of the founders of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage and was the driving force behind the creation of the Manzanar National Historic Site, will be presented at the 49th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located on U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence (see map below).

Sato, 88, was raised on Terminal Island, a former fishing village that is now part of the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. While he was in seventh grade, Sato and his family were forcibly removed from their home and shortly thereafter, incarcerated at Manzanar.

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Manzanar Committee Calls On Huntington Beach City Council To Act To Preserve, Protect Historic Wintersburg

The congregation of the Wintersburg Presbyterian Church, March 8, 1910.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo courtesy Wintersburg Presbyterian Church

LOS ANGELES — The Manzanar Committee, sponsor of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with the Manzanar At Dusk program, for the last 21 years, calls on the City Council of the City of Huntington Beach to act to preserve and protect the site of Historic Wintersburg, which is currently threatened by the proposed sale of the land by Republic Services, Inc. to Public Storage.

Historic Wintersburg is the former site of a late 1800’s Japanese American farming community which was named as one of America’s Most Endangered Places in 2014, and as a National Treasure in 2015. Both designations were made by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Coming Together to Stand Up – Reflections on the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage/2017 Manzanar At Dusk

Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey
addresses the crowd during the 48th Annual
Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 29, 2017 at
the Manzanar National Historic Site
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

by Bruce Embrey

In the days and weeks leading up to Saturday, April 29, the day of the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, the phone calls and e-mails poured in. There was no doubt that 2017 was the 75th year since our families, our community, were forced from their homes into horse stalls and barracks sparked interest in this year’s Pilgrimage.

People in their 80’s and 90’s, who had never been on a Pilgrimage before, called and told me their personal stories. Others were matter-of-fact: “Just the details on how to get to Manzanar,” some said. “Have to go before I cannot,” they’d say. Each and every conversation was meaningful.

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Manzanar NHS At 25 Years Old: More Relevant Now Than Ever Before

The following is an expanded version of a story that will appear in the printed program for the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, April 29, 2017.


The east side of the Visitor Center at Manzanar National Historic Site.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

LOS ANGELES — A little over 25 years ago, after decades of hard work, Japanese American community activists, along with allies in California’s Owens Valley, celebrated a victory when the site of the Manzanar concentration camp, located along U.S. Highway 395 between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, was designated as a National Historic Site on March 3, 1992, by an act of Congress.

It took twelve more years for the Manzanar National Historic Site to become a fully operational unit of the National Park Service, with its Visitor Center opening in April 2004. Since then, several physical elements of the World War II concentration camp have been reconstructed, additional exhibits continue to be developed, gardens are being excavated and rehabilitated, archaeological digs are uncovering more and more artifacts, and oral histories are being collected.

“It’s amazing,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “It took 23 years to be designated as a National Historic Site. Then, it took twelve more years to build the Visitor Center and have a grand opening in 2004. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

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