Densho eNews - April

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

A few weeks ago on a beautiful spring evening, I walked the grounds of the former Manzanar camp. As the sun disappeared behind the Sierra Nevadas, I was alone and yet felt the presence of the people who were incarcerated there sixty-five years ago. I could imagine water running and people mingling at the elaborate rock gardens that now lie silent and dust covered. I said a prayer and shed tears at a lonely cemetery tucked away in the very back, wondering about the stories behind the graves. Thank you to all who worked so hard to preserve this sacred place and who are committed to preserving more sites that should be honored. Later this month will be the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. See below for more information.

This month we welcome Patti Kiyono back to the Densho staff. Patti is a talented writer and editor who returns as Communications Director. For an introduction to her work, see this month's fascinating eNews article on habeas corpus in wartime.

From the Archive

The War on Habeas Corpus

"The Japanese in California should be under armed guard to the last man and woman right now and to hell with habeas corpus until the danger is over."
   - Los Angeles Times, February 16, 1942
"The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas."
   - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, January 17, 2007

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's recent remarks about long-detained "enemy combatants" conjure unsettling comparisons to the Supreme Court cases that upheld the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. Current legal challenges to the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, spring from a key constitutional issue raised over sixty years ago by Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and Mitsuye Endo: In wartime can the government suspend individuals' constitutional rights on the grounds of military necessity?

>> Read more of this article

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Densho News

Online History Award

Densho received one of three honorable mention citations for the ABC- CLIO Online History Award. This award is given every two years by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association. Winners were selected for freely available online historical resources that may be a full text collection, research aid, or teaching resource stimulating creative historical scholarship. Densho will accept the citation in June at the annual American Library Association conference in Washington, D.C.

>> More information about the award

Densho Interviewees on NPR

A recent NPR story featured two nisei whose interviews are in the Densho digital archive. Elizabeth Wynne Johnson profiled Sumi Okamoto and George Yamada in her piece on the wartime experiences of Japanese Americans who were not incarcerated. Both Okamoto and Yamada lived in Spokane, outside the designated military area, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Though they weren't incarcerated, Japanese Americans outside the "evacuation" zone were nonetheless affected by Executive Order 9066. December 7, 1942, happened to be Sumi's wedding day, and she tells how FBI agents disrupted the reception. George recalls being forbidden to travel with the Washington State University football team to compete in Seattle and other coastal cities. Densho is pleased to assist the press in producing articles on diverse aspects of the Japanese American story.

>> Listen to the story online

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Community Events

Manzanar Pilgrimage

"One Life...a Legacy for All" is the theme for the thirty-eighth annual pilgrimage to the site of the Manzanar "relocation center," which will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2007. This year's event honors Sue Kunitomi Embrey, who passed away in May 2006. In a 1997 interview in the Densho digital archive, Embrey describes how she lobbied to achieve redress and create Manzanar National Historic Site as a reminder of the past injustice. The National Park Service website for Manzanar offers directions for those who plan to visit on their own: The Manzanar Committee is organizing the group pilgrimage, which departs from Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.

>> More information from the Manzanar Committee

Film Premiere: Cats of Mirikitani

The Northwest Film Forum presents the Seattle premiere of the documentary Cats of Mirikitani, April 20 through 26, 7 pm and 9 pm. The octogenarian artist Jimmy Mirikitani survived the trauma of incarceration during World War II, losing family in Hiroshima, and living on the streets of New York. But when the 9/11 toxic fallout threatens his health, a filmmaker, Linda Hattendorf, brings him to her home. The two embark on a journey to confront Jimmy's painful past and reclaim his ties to family in Seattle. This intimate exploration of the lingering wounds of war, and the healing powers of friendship and art, won the Audience Award at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.

>> Ticket information from NWFF

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From the Press

New York Times: "Relatives of Interned Japanese-Americans Side With Muslims"

Children of Japanese Americans who brought Supreme Court cases in World War II support the lawsuit of Muslim immigrants detained after the 9/11 attacks. The Los Angeles Times published a related editorial.

>> Read article in NY Times (may require site registration)

Los Angeles Times: "In 1943, Census Released Japanese Americans' Data"

Despite decades of denials, the U.S. Census Bureau confirms that they provided the Secret Service with names and addresses of Japanese Americans during World War II.

>> Read article in LA Times (may require site registration)

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