“History happens one person at a time.” Nikos Theodosakis
Several major projects have taken over my life during the last six weeks (which accounts for my lapse in posting and responding). At the top of my list is the Time of Remembrance oral histories project and website, a resource that includes the living voices of eighteen Japanese-American citizens who experienced discrimination, exclusion, and forced removal from the west coast during WWII.
Three years ago, Marielle Tsukamoto, an Elk Grove educator who has become a friend, mentor, and constant source of inspiration, and I had a conversation about the need to document and preserve the stories of local residents who, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, lost all rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Our aim was to produce broadcast-quality interviews that would be available online. We wanted teachers to review the interviews, select clips that aligned to their grade-level or subject area standards and curriculum, and integrate the clips into sample lessons. We applied for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant in order to cover the cost of a professional videographer (Sacramento Eudcational Cable Consortium‘s own Doug Niva), university advisors, historians, and archivists (CSUS’s Wayne Mayeda, Lori Hammond, Janie Lowe, and Georgiana White), and stipends for our teacher team. We did not get the grant…and that turned out to be a good thing.
Thanks to much in-kind time from SECC and the CSUS team, and the support of EGUSD Tech Services, and some funding from our Teaching American History Grant, we were able to do exactly what I proposed in the above, minus any of the bureaucratic reporting requirements that are part of an NEH package.
If you have been following the Ken Burns World War II series, you already know that Sacramento was one of the featured cities. Prior to the opening week of the series, Ken Burns came to the Sacramento Museum for History, Women and the Arts for a promotion. Marielle gave him a tour of the Museum’s Time of Remembrance exhibit and told him that the Elk Grove School District would soon have an online collection of interviews with the internees. He asked Marielle to contact him when we went live with the Interview Archives section of the website, which she will do sometime this week when it becomes the feature story for our district website. I think he will be impressed. I am. This project is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with a little bandwidth and a lot of collaboration.
Unlike the War series, the Time of Remembrance Interview Archive clips are available for teachers 24/7 – no cost and no need to ask permission to download and use for classroom purposes:-) . And…there is more to come…We’ve conducted eight more interviews and next month plan to do a walking tour of the remnants of Marysville’s Japantown. Two of our interviewees will serve as our guides as they reconstruct their memories of this agricultural community in the pre-WWII years.
Note: To listen to the interview clips that go with the above photographs, visit Reiko Nagumo’s interview.