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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Former Inyo County Supervisor Bob Gracey To Receive 2016 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award

Robert W. “Bob” Gracey, shown here
as a member of the Inyo County
Board of Supervisors.
(click to view larger image)
Official Inyo County photo by Michael Cooke/Cooke’s Fine Photography

PILGRIMAGE: Bus transportation to Pilgrimage from Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo is available, but seats are going fast.

LOS ANGELES — On March 31, the Manzanar Committee announced that Owens Valley native Robert W. “Bob” Gracey has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award.

The award, named after the late chair of the Manzanar Committee who was also 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 47th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, on Saturday, April 30, 2016, 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).

Cultural performances begin at 11:30 AM PDT, while the main portion of the program starts at 12:00 PM.

Gracey, 87, born in Kearsarge (formerly a narrow gauge railroad station about five miles east of Independence, California), was elected in late 1992 to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, representing the Fourth District, which includes the Manzanar National Historic Site.

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Personal Approach Helped Stall DWP Solar Project

At an April 1, 2014 press conference, held on the steps of the Inyo County Courthouse in Independence, California, stakeholders called on the Inyo County Board of Supervisors to protect the Owens Valley from large-scale,
industrial renewable energy development. From left: Alan Bacock, Big Pine Paiute Tribe, Mary Roper,
Owens Valley Committee, Bruce Embrey, Manzanar Committee, Meredith Hackleman, Metabolic Studio.
(click to view larger image)
Photo: Judyth Greenburgh

The following was originally published in the June 2, 2015 edition of the Inyo Register. It is reprinted here with permission.


by Jon Klusmire
Special to the Inyo Register

INDEPENDENCE, CA — A personal approach that tapped into a shared history of past battles and victories was credited with delaying for a decade the industrial scale solar power project that kicked off an 18-month public debate in Inyo County about the future of the solar power industry in the county.

An alliance of Inyo County residents and organizations, and the Los Angeles based Manzanar Committee, came together to battle the solar project in 2014, in a move that resembled a similar effort 25 years ago to out-maneuver the Los Angeles Department of Power (LADWP) during the long struggle to establish the Manzanar National Historic Site.

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Rev. Paul T. Nakamura To Receive 2015 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award

Rev. Paul T. Nakamura, shown here during the interfaith service at the Manzanar cemetery at the 34th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, April 24, 2004, is the 2015 recipient of the Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Tom Walker/Manzanar Committee


PILGRIMAGE: Seats available on second bus from Downtown Los Angeles to 46th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, but are going fast. See below for details.

LOS ANGELES — On April 12, the Manzanar Committee announced that long-time religious leader and community activist, Reverend Paul T. Nakamura, pastor of Lutheran Oriental Church in Torrance, California, has been chosen as the 2015 recipient of the Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award.

The award, named after the late chair of the Manzanar Committee who was also 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 46th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, scheduled for 12:00 PM PDT on Saturday, April 25, 2015, 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).

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