On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. On Saturday, February 21st, the 21 annual Day of Remembrance was held at the Japanese American National Museum. This year was focused on the topic of immigration with the theme, Forging Alliances: Connecting Nikkei to Current Immigration.
Introduction to the museum and the event was given by JANM President and CEO, Akemi Kikumura Yano, co- MC along with Kene Kubo. Yano said “this event is about learning from the past to inform the future. This could happen to anyone.” Richard Katsuda, co-chair of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress presented the organization’s Fighting Spirit award to Lillian Nakano, a founding member of the organization. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend the event due to health issues, but was accepted by her son, Erich Nakano who appeared on stage with his two children.
Professor Roger Daniels, the Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cincinnati, was the keynote speaker. He offered an in depth history of the Japanese American internment, including the Issei and Nisei experience, the aftermath following their release, and the efforts of subsequent generations in the campaign for redress. He also addressed the parallel events that followed the internment that affected other ethnic groups in times of “internal security emergencies.”
The program also featured the personal stories of several Issei that reflected the hardships and discrimination they faced. Students from UCLA (CAPSA) shared their personal experiences as recent immigrants and the obstacles they face in seeking higher education. A special performance by hip-hop artist Prophet was electrifying.
Several organizations from the Southern California area were present; the Campaign for Justice, representing the Japanese Latin Americans for redress equity ; UCLA CAPSA and UCLA IDEAS for the DREAM Act campaign; the Council on American-Islamic Relations for the Muslim American community. The Southern California Executive Director of CAIR, Hussam Ayloush, delivered a moving thanks for the support of the Japanese American community in the aftermath of 9/11.
The ceremony closed with an energetic performance by Progressive Taiko.