Dr. Arthur A. Hansen Named Co-Recipient of 2014 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award

LOS ANGELES — On March 26, the Manzanar Committee announced that renowned scholar and co-founder of the Japanese American Oral History Program, Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, has been chosen as one of the 2014 recipients of the Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award.

Educator and former Manzanar incarceree Mas Okui was also named as a recipient (see separate press release).

The award, named after the late chair of the Manzanar Committee who was also one of the founders of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, and was the driving force behind the creation of the Manzanar National Historic Site, will be presented at the 45th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, scheduled for 12:00 PM PDT on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located on U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence (see map below).

Hansen, 75, a native of Hoboken, New Jersey, began his work at California State University, Fullerton’s Department of History in 1966, where he would later immerse himself in the field of Ethnic Studies.

“In the early 1970’s, I was provoked by the upsurge of protest and dissent on the campus and in the outside world, along with the rise of ethnic consciousness and Ethnic Studies, to re-direct my attention to Asian American Studies and, in particular, the social disaster inflicted by the U.S. Government upon Americans of Japanese ancestry during the Second World War,” Hansen wrote. “However, convinced that the standard historical version of what Japanese Americans had experienced during America’s so-called ‘good war’ was severely compromised by a criminal neglect of the voiced perspective of the victimized population, in 1972, I launched, in concert with one of my graduate students, Betsy Mitson, the Japanese American Oral History Project within Cal State Fullerton’s Oral History Program.”

A pioneering effort over four decades that focused on the unjust World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, the Japanese American Oral History Project recorded and transcribed hundreds of interviews and, periodically, illuminated their contents and perspectives in published anthologies and unpublished theses.

Along with Mitson, Hansen also coordinated the first lecture series on the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, which included a presentation by Sue Kunitomi Embrey. Hansen and Mitson also authored the pioneering oral history book, Voices Long Silent: An Oral History Inquiry into the Japanese American Evacuation. Hansen also edited the six-volume anthology, Japanese American World War II Evacuation Oral History Project, which received a Special Recognition Award from the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California in 1997.

Hansen, along with Sue Kunitomi Embrey and Mitson, co-edited Manzanar Martyr: An Interview with Harry Y. Ueno, who was the principal figure in the Manzanar Riot. He is now editing Nisei Naysayer: The Memoir of Militant Japanese American Journalist Jimmie Omura and Barbed Voices: Oral History, Resistance, and the World War II Japanese American Social Disaster.

“My work has embraced the full extent of Japanese American history, society, and culture, [but] the lion’s share has riveted upon the protest, dissent, and resistance of Japanese American individuals and groups in relation to the history and legacy of the World War II Japanese American experience,” Hansen noted. “This is rooted in my impassioned belief that, contrary to popular belief, Japanese Americans possess a robust tradition of active opposition to unbridled, unjust, and unprincipled authority.”

Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey praised Hansen’s contributions and achievements.

“One of the Japanese American community’s most ardent and consistent allies, Art Hansen is one of our country’s leading scholars on the forced removal and incarceration of the Japanese American community,” said Embrey. “Working to capture and record the history through oral histories of all who suffered, including residents of the Owens Valley, Art is known for his thorough and democratic approach.”

“Art is no mere academic,” added Embrey. “As a scholar, his focus is to get to the underlying truth. But his thorough research is imbued with fierce and tireless advocacy for social justice. He was a colleague, friend and confidant of my mother, Sue Kunitomi Embrey, and it is both fitting and long overdue that he is recognized for his role in our long struggle for justice.”

For more information on the Manzanar Pilgrimage and the popular Manzanar At Dusk program scheduled for 5:00 PM that same evening, including bus transportation to the afternoon Pilgrimage program, check out the Manzanar Committee’s official blog at http://manzanarcommittee.org, send e-mail to 45thpilgrimage@manzanarcommittee.org, or call (323) 662-5102.

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.


LEAD PHOTO: Dr. Arthur A. Hansen, shown here during the Japanese American National Museum’s 2013 National Conference in Seattle, Washington, July 2013. Photo courtesy Arthur A. Hansen.

Manzanar National Historic Site

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