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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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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Manzanar To Host Pilgrimage Weekend Events, April 27-29, 2018

The following is a press release from the National Park Service.


To download a printable flyer,
click on the image above.
(Adobe Reader software required to view/print)

INDEPENDENCE, CA — Manzanar National Historic Site invites visitors to participate in a weekend of special events in conjunction with the Manzanar Committee’s 49th Annual Pilgrimage. All are welcome and the events are free. This year’s Pilgrimage coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided redress to Japanese Americans though a presidential apology and individual payment to all surviving former incarcerees.

Pilgrimage Weekend 2018 events begin Friday, April 27, with a public reception hosted by the Friends of Eastern California Museum from 4:00 to 6:00 PM The Eastern California Museum is located at 155 Grant Street in Independence (see map below). It features exhibits including Shiro and Mary Nomura’s Manzanar collection, the Anna and O.K. Kelly Gallery of Native American Life and exhibits on other facets of local and regional history. Eastern California Museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

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