LOS ANGELES — Sharing stories and experiences from the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II will be the focus of the 2016 Manzanar At Dusk program, sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, scheduled from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 South Main Street (US Highway 395), in Lone Pine, California, across the street from McDonald’s (see map below).
The Manzanar At Dusk program follows the 47th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage that same day, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles (see map below).
Cultural performances at the Pilgrimage, including UCLA Kyodo Taiko, begin at 11:30 AM PDT, while the main portion of the program starts at 12:00 PM.
Manzanar At Dusk is co-sponsored by the Nikkei Student Unions at California State University, Long Beach, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, San Diego.
Through a creative presentation, small group discussions, and an open mic session, participants will have the opportunity to interact with former incarcerees in attendance and others to hear their personal stories. Participants will also be able to share their own experiences and discuss the relevance of the Japanese American Incarceration experience to present-day issues.
Student organizers began to take the program back to its 1997 roots in 2011, when they resumed their leadership role in organizing the event, and they stressed that Manzanar At Dusk is an event for everyone, not just Japanese Americans, because it deals with issues that affect society as a whole.
“Manzanar At Dusk allows participants to learn more about the Japanese American Incarceration and what the Japanese American community had to go through during World War II,” said Lauren Nicho, President, Cal Poly Pomona Nikkei Student Union. “This program allows people from all backgrounds and all generations to come together and share stories about their experiences, or their families experiences. Manzanar At Dusk spreads awareness about what happened to our community during World War II so that it doesn’t happen to anyone ever again.”
“Manzanar At Dusk is important because it brings together people of various backgrounds to talk about Japanese American Incarceration,” said Ryan Togashi, President, Nikkei Student Union at UCLA. “It is important that society understands the wrongdoings inflicted upon a minority group when fear and hatred lead the decision-making processes. That same fear and hatred should not cloud our judgment as society faces similar situations today.”
Manzanar At Dusk is also an opportunity to raise awareness of this dark chapter in American History among young Japanese Americans, who are now at least one or two generations removed from the incarceration experience.
“A Japanese American college student does not need to learn about Japanese American history,” said Rena Ogino, President, UCSD Nikkei Student Union. “But when our members choose to join our organization and take the opportunity we provide to participate in the Manzanar Pilgrimage and Manzanar At Dusk, they learn another depth to what it means to be Japanese American today.”
“Younger generations are losing touch with our traditions and history,” said Nicho. “Getting involved in Manzanar At Dusk teaches us the history of what our families had to go through and it brings us closer to our culture and identity. Everyone should learn about the Japanese American Incarceration and Manzanar At Dusk is a great way to get involved helping our community and learning about our history at the same time.”
Engaging and educating youth and empowering them to take responsibility for passing on what they’ve learned is a key component of the program.
“Manzanar At Dusk is an important component of the Pilgrimage weekend,” said Wendi Yamashita of the Manzanar Committee, who serves as Co-Coordinator, Manzanar At Dusk. “This program, which began in 1997, is vitally important because it gives younger generations the space to figure out what incarceration means to them, while providing opportunities for powerful inter-generational and inter-ethnic dialogues.”
“Manzanar At Dusk allows the students to take control of the program,” added Yamashita. “As organizers of the event, the students are able to express how the incarceration experience affects them personally and translate those experiences into a lesson they want to share with an audience that is very diverse, in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, and religious beliefs.”
Both the daytime Pilgrimage program and the Manzanar At Dusk event are free and open to the public. For more information, call (323) 662-5102 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
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. For more information, check out our web site at https://manzanarcommittee.org, call us at (323) 662-5102, and e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
LEAD PHOTO: 2015 Manzanar At Dusk participants, shown here during small group discussions. Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee.
Manzanar National Historic Site
Lone Pine High School
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While your effort to talk about the incarceration experience, there is a group of people, “Silent Americans”, who you will never reach to hear the stories. Over the past years, I continually hear from Sansei and Yonsei that tell me that when they ask their grandparents or great grandparents, they simply look at them, turn around in silence. I was once one of the ”Silent American” who was imprisoned at Manzanar. I was 20 years old and my draft status was 1A, citizen but changed to 4C enemy alien because I looked like the enemy. Recently I have presented talks to various groups about that dark chapter. I have also given my two books, “Ringo-en”, my memoir, “Lady on the Bridge”, and a copy of my talk to the Sansei and Yonsei hoping that my story will give them some sense of the injustice. I was Manzanar High School Physics teacher by taking 24 units of educational courses under UC Berkeley’s Extension Department. I left Manzanar to teach “Conversational Japanese” to US Army Reservist at the University of Minnesota until the end of the war.
Subsequently, I was drafted and later sent as an interpreter under General MacArthur’s GHQ in Tokyo, Japan. I am also a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal for my service to our Country.
But there is a bigger question that everyone must face. The answer is not simply race bias. It is more sinister than that.
Tadashi Kishi email@example.com
PS: I have donated 100 books of ”Ringo-en” to Bruce Emery for his Manzanar Pilgrimage several years ago.
Yes, on behalf of the Manzanar Committee, we thank you for your donation of books!