2003 Day of Remembrance
Speakers recognize the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII as a “political failure.”

Congressman Mike Honda Keynote Speaker
The Day of Remembrance was commem-orated Saturday in Little Tokyo with a program entitled “Race Prejudice, War Hysteria, Failure of Political Leadership: Then & Now,” presented by Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR), Japanese American Citizens League/Pacific Southwest District (JACL), and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), at JANM’s George & Sakaye Aratani Central Hall.

The NCRR Fighting Spirit Award was given to Janice Harumi Yen, community redress activist and a founding member of NCRR, and Los Angeles Human Relations Commission Executive Director Robin Toma was honored with the JACL Community Achievement Award. Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) delivered the keynote address at the event emphasizing on importance of passing on the story of the Japanese American internment experiences to the future generations and criticizing the anti-Muslim American hysteria after the 9/11.

“Today, we are here at this museum because it is a depository of all the information. We have to ask ourselves why we are here. For me the answer is to pass on the information.

Fighting Spirit Awardee Janice Yen
We are here today to remember the ability to ask questions and to be willing to criticize our leadership. It is an American right, it is your guaranteed responsibility,” said Honda.

Many guest speakers included Congressman Xavier Becerra and Omar Ricci of Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), touched on recent comments by Rep. Howard Coble and comparing the Nikkei World War ll experience with what many of the Muslim Americans have been going through since 9/11.

Becerra disagreed with Coble’s comments declaring that what happened 60 years ago to Japanese Americans was wrong.” However, he claimed that Coble would listen and acknowledge injustice of the internment if he had a right information. “I won’t give up on anyone just like Issei who believed in hope, justice and finally got a citizenship after all those years,” Becerra stated.

In her speech, Yen said, “Unfortunately, a fight for economic and social justice is not going well. It is an ongoing process. We must continue to look for and construct a municipal power. The challenge for us today is greater than ever.”

Congressman Xavier Becerra with DOR co-chairs
Born a month after the signing of Executive Order 9066 in 1942, Yen has worked with the redress campaign and other civil rights issues for over 22 years. She is also the assistant producer for the film produced by NCRR and Visual Communications, “Stand Up for Jus-tice,” which portrays a Mexican-Irish American, Ralph Lazo, who voluntarily went to the Manzanar to accompany his Japanese American classmates.

Toma, who has devoted himself to the Japanese Latin American redress movement, agreed with Yen. “It is a moment like this when we have a chance to reflect not only what happened and what is happening and to recognize what a critical time we are living at,” said Toma.

“When I heard the statement of Coble, I was stunned. You know that a lot of people are talking about this because it is really a scary thing when we combine homeland security and people’s civil liberty.”

Denise Uyehara performs at DOR
Toma asked the audience what the community can do to fight against the dehumanization in the war hysteria. The commissioner noted that the number of hate crimes increased 12 percent in three months after Sept. 11, 2001 in the Los Angeles County.

The event took an emotional turn when Denise Uyehara performed excerpts from “Big Head,” a project made possible by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, which conveys messages from former IA internees and Muslim Americans facing discrimination.

Reception was immediately followed the program.

NCRR and MPAC are scheduled to hold an educational forum on the Patriot Act on March 1 at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC). For more information, contact NCRR at (213) 680-3484 or log on to www.ncrr-la.org.

Reprinted from the Rafu Shimpo

Click above to see an enlarged version of the 2003 DOR poster designed by David Monkawa

Director John Esaki promoting
Stand Up for Justice film

DOR 2003

Omar Ricci and Kathy Nishimoto at DOR 2003

Robin Toma accepts JACL
Achievement Award from Gary Mayeda

“Race Prejudice, War Hysteria, Failure of Political Leadership -
Then & Now”