Returning to our Roots, Rising to the Future
2021 is Densho’s 25th anniversary! Join us throughout the year as we celebrate our roots and find innovative ways to shepherd our community’s history into the future. Five core values have driven our work from the start — here’s a peek at how they will shape our offerings in the year to come.
Simply put, we wouldn’t be where we are today without our community. At the core of this community are the elders who entrusted us to share their stories with future generations. We know that being good stewards of these stories means staying engaged with and accountable to our community.
In 2021: We will find new ways to use virtual platforms to engage and expand our community. Look for a series of kitchen table conversations with Densho director Tom Ikeda, an expansion of our family history and oral history programs, and a series of events highlighting lesser-known stories of WWII incarceration. Save the date! Our 25th anniversary celebration on October 23, 2021 will be virtual once again so that we can welcome community from across the US and beyond.
The Densho community includes a vast array of history- and activist-minded organizations and individuals. The partnerships we have cultivated over the past 25 years have made our archives richer and our work more effective, and we are dedicated to finding creative ways to continue to grow this area of our work.
In 2021: Look for more collaboratively produced events; partnerships with artists, authors, and activists; a return of the Campu podcast, and participation in initiatives like Tadaima! and the Community Archives Collaborative.
Social justice has been in our blood since our inception, but we have stepped up our efforts in response to the rise of racism, xenophobia, and scapegoating of other marginalized communities. From the Muslim Ban to mass incarceration, echoes of 1942 can be heard all around us and we take seriously the imperative to be the allies that Japanese Americans needed in 1942.
In 2021: We will maintain our commitment to activism through work with groups like Tsuru for Solidarity and the Tech Equity Coalition, we will produce new educational materials about xenophobia, racism, the model minority myth, and redress; and we’ll be continuing internal work to ensure that the anti-racist values we preach shape the very structure of our organization.
Densho was founded in the early days of the Internet, but we knew even then that we wanted to build an organization focused on digital media so that it would be available online for free to anyone in the world. That ethic of innovation continues to shape our work as we foster a forward-thinking and tech savvy culture.
In 2021: We will redesign our website to make it more user friendly and accessible; we will be launching new platforms, including major updates to the Sites of Shame and Names Registry. And we will continue to find ways to thrive in the virtual landscape through an increase in online events, teacher workshops, and other engagement opportunities.
Densho’s staff of historians, archivists, and other subject area experts apply rigorous standards to everything we do. That’s why scholars, media outlets, and artists know they can rely on our material — and why we have come to be recognized as a trusted source for Japanese American incarceration history.
In 2021: We will add to our digital collections and to the Densho Encyclopedia, and we’ll be highlighting how our work is shaping popular understandings of WWII incarceration through media and other publications, including our work with NY Times bestselling author Daniel J. Brown on his new book, Facing the Mountain.