'Stand Up For Justice' Screens at DOR
Manzanar internee Ralph Lazo is subject of film shown at
sold-out Day of Remembrance candlelight ceremony.


A maximum capacity audience filled the seats of the Aratani Japan America Theater Saturday night for the screening of "Stand Up For Justice: The Raph Lazo Story," a 30-minute film detailing the story of a Mexican/Irish- American who volunteers to live with his Japanese Ameri- can friends in the Manzanar internment camp.

In conjunction with this year's Day of Remembrance (DOR) commemoration event sponsored by the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR), the film was a labor of love by veteran documentary filmmaker John Esaki who spent six years on the project, involving hundreds of volunteers from the local community. "The [film] is the end of a long process, a long journey," said Esaki.

Family members of Ralph Lazo, who died in 1992, attended the screening, taking part in the candlelighting ceremony that commemorated Lazo, as well as Visual Communications Executive Director Linda Mabalot and NCRR spokesperson Bert Nakano, both who passed away last year.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Japanese Latin Americans Struggle for Justice (CFJ), Quakers and American Friends Service committee, Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates, Fred Korematsu and the American Civil Liberties Union were also among those honored.

Lazo's youngest son, Daniel Lazo, spoke on behalf of the family , recalling his father’s close kinship with the Japanese American friends he made while attending Belmont High School in Los Angeles.

“My father was honored to be a part of this community… From a young age, he talked about his nihonjin friends, recalling fond rememories of them.” he said adding, “he did not regret his actions, but regretted that there was a Manzanar."

A 16-year-old at the time of the executive order issue, Lazo sympathized with the injustice and suffering inflicted upon Japanese Americans. While saying his farewell to friends at the train station, Lazo decided to sneak on board, according to the film.

Civil right activist Yuri Kochiyama—who turns 82 this year—was also among the guests in attendance along with Rep. Xavier Becerra (31st district) who announced that he would talk with Rep. Mike Honda (15th district) about holding an official congressional meeting on behalf of those who have yet to receive reparation. “It's been more than a decade since [The Civil Liberties Act of] 1988 and the fight still goes on,” he said. “If we don’t remember, we don’t be able to bring that justice for all.”

Drawing the ceremony to a poignant close, actress Brittany Ishibashi, who played Lazo’s friend Ruby in the film, joined mother Lisa and grandmother Mary Kageyama Nomura on stage in a soulful rendition of “I Can’t Fool This Heart of Mine,” The song was written by Nomura’s late husband Shi Nomura in the 1940s during the courtship of his soon-to-be bride, the famed “Songbird of Manzanar.”

“Stand up for Justice” will be screened at Visual Communications L.A. Festival, April 20-May 6, and is planned for use as a part of a high school educational project to be shown throughout the country. Donations are needed to fund the project. For more information about the project or Ralph Lazo, call NCRR at (213) 680-3484 or visit www.ncrr-la.org.

Saturday’s event was co-sponsored by Visual Communications, the Japanese American Citizen’s League South- west District, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the Japanese American National Museum.

Richard Katsuda and Roberto Flores, lighting the candle
in honor of the Oxnard beet strike workers (1903).

Mimi Okrand lighting a candle in honor of her late husband, Fred Okrand.

Alexis Cruz (Ralph in video), Marcus Toji (Art in video)
and Brittany Ishibashi (Ruby in video)

Alexis, Marcus, Brittany, Janice Yen, Richard Katsuda, Kay Ochi,
Steve Nagano, Wilbur Sato, Suzy Katsuda and June Hibino.

Richard Katsuda (NCRR co-chair), Kathy N. Masaoka (NCRR co-chair),
Traci Kato Kiriyama and Marcus Toji (co-MCs).

US Congressman, Xavier Becerra (31st district) lighting a candle

NSU student, Richard Katsuda and Tom Hayashi stuffing DOR programs

Alexis Cruz, John Esaki (Director) and Amy Kato (Producer)

Alexis Cruz