Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress honored by LA County Human Relations Commission

Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress was honored on October 6th by the Los Angeles County Human Relations commission and the County Board of Supervisors’ First District at the Commission’s annual John Anson ford Human Relations Awards.

NCRR was honored for its broad contributions to the preservation of civil rights to all beleaguered minorities facing violations of their rights and civil liberties, particularly since 9/11 when Muslim, Arab American and South Asian communities have been targets of bias and discrimination. Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress was founded 25 years ago as the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, playing a leading role in organizing Japanese Americans and others to win redress for the WWII incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans who had lost their property, their careers and had their livelihood eradicated due to forced imprisonment by a U.S. wartime government. NCRR’s leadership led to passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, a landmark bill that provided for an apology and monetary redress to survivors.

Since that landmark success, NCRR has reached out to other communities of color facing discriminatory policies.  For example, NCRR has supported the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund in seeking redress to over one million Mexican Americans who were wrongfully deported from the U.S. during the 1930s.  NCRR has also reached out to the Arab, Muslim Americans and South Asian communities targeted by the wave of hate violence and discrimination that occurred in the aftermath of 9/11.  NCRR believes in the continuing need to build support and understanding with Muslim community, which has experienced suspicion, detention and attacks on their civil and constitutional rights since September 11, 2001.  The group formed the NCRR September 11th Committee because the organization was concerned about continued scapegoating of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians after the attacks of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, echoing their own experience many decades earlier.  The NCRR 9/11 Committee organized this years “Break the Fast” in Little Tokyo, an annual event that brings together Japanese Americans of diverse faiths, with Muslim Americans to celebrate Ramadan and the Islamic breaking of the fast.

NCRR has continuously worked to educate the public about the WWII prison camps for Japanese Americans, so that it will never be repeated for others, and educates the Japanese American community and others about the current threats to fundamental freedoms and civil liberties of Muslim Americans and others.  That is the purpose behind its many successful events in downtown Los Angeles, including the annual Day of Remembrance, which annually commemorates Executive Order 9066 as the beginning of the WWII internment.

NCRR also works to show the bonds of human solidarity across racial/ethnic and religious lines.  This is exemplified in its recent production of the film “Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story”, which tells the true story of a Mexican American student at Belmont High during WWII who went to live with his Japanese American friends who were forced to go to the Manzanar “Relocation Camp”.  NCRR’s Education Committee is developing a “Stand Up for Justice” Curriculum Guide for use in the school classrooms with the film.

Finally, NCRR continues to educate others about a federal bill that would grant equity in redress for the little known story of 2,264 Japanese Latin Americans who were forcibly deported from their home countries in Latin America, imprisoned in U>S. government camps during WWII and swapped for American prisoners of war:  endow a public education fund on the violation of basic human rights of minorities during war such as these and ensure that all Japanese Americans who were in WWII camps receive redress for their internment.