Browsed by
Tag: Time of Remembrance

In Response to Executive Order 9066

In Response to Executive Order 9066

Last month, I posted Remembering Executive Order 9066, commemorating the 75th anniversary of FDR signing this historic, unfortunate executive order. Given how often the term “executive order” is currently in the news, I wanted to do more than simply reflect on an injustice from the past. Today I am posting a new lesson/hyperdoc to the Time of Remembrance (TOR) website: In Response to Executive Order 9066.

The goal of this lesson is to introduce students (Grades 4-12) to the possible impacts of any executive order that targets a specific group of people. During the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over 110,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them citizens of the United States, were evacuated from the West Coast and “relocated” to detention camps established by the U.S. Government. As captured in Ansel Adam’s iconic photos, many internees would spend the next three years behind barbed wire. Their stories of discrimination and forced removal provide a window into a time when our nation failed to uphold the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the U.S. Constitution — regardless of nationality, race, religion, or ethnicity.

As students delve into the lesson by watching the I’m American Too – Stories from Behind the Fences documentary and exploring the primary source interviews in the TOR WWII Archives, they will gain an understanding of how virtually overnight West Coast farming communities were forever changed, with very few internees returning to their former homes. The students are then tasked with capturing a “story from behind the fences” by drafting a letter in the voice of the internee to someone, real or imaginary, outside of the camp. Using Dwight Okita’s “In Response to Executive Order 9066” poem as a model, their final task is to transform their letters into letter poems.

The lesson is also a call to action. Students are warmly invited to take their letter poems beyond the walls of the classroom by submitting them to the TOR Student Gallery for publication to a national audience. If you work with students, I am pretty sure you will agree that when we support students in speaking out on issues of social justice, we are often providing a lens to view the impact of bystanders and the difference a single upstander can make.

During the month of March, many West Coast school districts and museums commemorate Japanese-American internment with activities and exhibits. And, of course, probably all school districts celebrate April as National Poetry Month. Whatever the occasion or lesson might be, if you are a teacher, I hope you will encourage your students to create letter poems in response to Executive Order 9066 and to publish them to an authentic audience, such as the Time of Remembrance Student Gallery.

 

Remembering Executive Order 9066

Remembering Executive Order 9066

Seventy-five years ago today, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them citizens, from the West Coast. Virtually overnight, an entire group of people lost their jobs, their homes, and their constitutional rights.

Thanks to a beautiful article in today’s SacBee from California farmer, journalist, and author David Mas Masumoto, I am reminded of the importance of standing up and speaking out on behalf of targeted groups. I teach in a school district that was once home to a hard-working community of Japanese-American farmers, who transformed the region into beautiful, productive strawberry fields. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the history of the Elk Grove-Florin region was abruptly and forever changed.

In honor of the many contributions of the Japanese-American community and in recognition of the need to stop history from repeating itself, I am proud to co-direct my district’s Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project (TOR). David Mas Masumoto’s words complement the purpose of the TOR project:

“We remember through stories. They frame events, add context to the past beyond a history of facts. Stories add rich and personal details that generate an emotional connection to what was and what can be.”

America is a nation of immigrants. In response to the current political climate and an executive order that is similar to 9066, the TOR project invites youth from across the nation to interview an immigrant or refugee and then share their stories on our TOR Student Gallery. We’ve created On Coming to America, both the lesson and teacher’s guide/toolkit, as an opportunity to showcase the sacrifices and contributions of immigrants and refugees. Again, David Mas Masumoto’s words sum up our commitment to documenting stories from our communities:

“To recognize today’s stories of hate against a class of people, to demand these stories be heard is a first step to building a more democratic and just nation. To be American is to remember all our stories.”

Note: Opening image is from Reiko Nagumo’s TOR interview.

On Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings

On Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings

We are a nation of immigrants.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.

The greatest gift we can give someone is the gift of their history.” HmongStory40

Yes, we are a nation of immigrants. I am fortunate to work in a school district that is yearly enriched by its history of cultural diversity. Last year, in recognition and celebration of the experiences, challenges, and contributions of those who have come to America, I collaborated on the Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings Lesson and Teacher’s Guide. This year, I am adding another resource: On Coming to America Hyperdoc.*

Both these online lessons are invitations to your students to interview, document, and publish the story of an immigrant or refugee, with a shared goal of:

  • Introducing students to the differences between an “immigrant” and a “refugee”
  • Providing a collection of primary source interviews (videos) with recent refugees
  • Providing guidelines for students to step into the role of oral historians by conducting an interview
  • Encouraging students to publish their Small Moments, Big Meanings projects to an authentic audience via several online options.

On Coming to America Hyperdoc Lesson Graphic

I have posted before about the Time of Remembrance Project’s recently added Student Gallery. The Student Gallery is one of the suggested publishing venues for On Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings, especially via the hyperdoc.

How about your school or district? Have your students had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and do the work of an oral historian? If not, I can promise that in the process of interviewing an immigrant or refugee, they will discover what I have learned: history happens one story at a time. It would be an honor to showcase your students’ On Coming to America projects.

Questions? Suggestions? Please leave a comment. Let the conversations begin!

*Note: The term “hyperdoc” stems from the ever-amazing Lisa Highfill’s commitment to use tools (such as Google Docs/Slides/Sheets) to create lessons with access to “instructions, links, tasks… to get kids thinking.”
Tule Lake Internment Camp – From first-hand accounts

Tule Lake Internment Camp – From first-hand accounts

I have not yet visited the Tule Lake Segregation Camp (AKA Tule Lake War Relocation Center), but as of Monday, thanks to a text message from Kathleen Watt (Time of Remembrance Co-Director) and a Tweet from Larry Ferlazzo, a trip to this remote area of Northern California is now on my 2016 to-do list. Kathleen and Larry both shared a link to Charles Lam’s NBC News article: Senate Bill Would Name Tule Lake, Largest Japanese Internment Camp, Historic Site.

Tule Lake War Relocation Center.jpg
Tule Lake War Relocation Center” by Library of Congress –  Licensed under Public Domain

Tule Lake was one of ten internment camps quickly constructed by the U.S. Government for the purpose of removing all people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast during World War II. It is best known as “home” to the “no no boys,” a term “for those who answered ‘no’ to questions 27 and 28, the so-called ‘loyalty questions’ on the Application for Leave Clearance form” (Densho Encyclopedia).

Of the 32 interviews posted to the Time of Remembrance World War II Archives, 12 include first-hand accounts of life in Tule Lake. For some of our interviewees, Tule Lake was a starting point in their internment years; for others, it was where they were confined until the close of WWII.

To learn more about Tule Lake from a child’s perspective, I recommend starting with Christine Umeda’s interview. Christine’s parents signed the loyalty oath and were then released from Tule Lake and relocated to Topaz. For a more detailed account of a child’s life in Tule Lake, listen to Toshiye Kawamura’s interview, whose father was a “no no boy.”

“No no boy” Jim Tanimoto’s interview is a compelling account of the consequences of taking a stand as an 18-year-old and refusing to sign the loyalty oath. Jim’s 36-minute interview makes a strong case for Barbara Boxer’s Senate Bill and will provide teachers and students with the content background to fully understand and appreciate this newsworthy current event.

Jim’s interview also stands as a testimony to Tule Lake Committee Officer Barbara Takei’s statement to NBC News“The people used this loyalty questionnaire as a form of protest. The people who gave the ‘wrong’ answer ended up segregated at Tule Lake. That protest is really the Japanese-American civil rights story. It’s a story that hasn’t really been told.”

When I do make the 300+ mile journey from Sacramento to Tule Lake (hopefully this summer), I’ll be back with an updated post!

 

Treasure Languages Event: Storytelling in two voices

Treasure Languages Event: Storytelling in two voices

“Each language is shining a little torch somewhere. These are treasures for the whole of humankind.”   Nicholas Evans (Language Matters, PBS)

I’d like to start this post with a shout out to language researchers Robyn Perry (University of California, Berkeley) and Steven Bird (University of Melbourne, Australia) for the incredible work they are doing through the Aikuma Project to preserve dying languages. Robyn has been a featured guest blogger on the TOR Talks blog (a project I co-direct with my school district colleague Kathleen Watt) and has also joined us,with Steven, for a Google Hangout. So Kathleen and I were thrilled when Robyn invited us to come to Oakland (California) for the Sunday, December 13, Treasure Language Storytelling Event.

treasure-2jxgxrt

I was born in Oakland and grew up in Orinda, part of what is known as the “East Bay.” So I was surprised to learn about one of California’s “hidden histories” (not included in history textbooks): The storytelling event was taking place in an area once inhabited by the Chochenyo (a new word for my spellchecker), a division of the Ohlone tribe of Northern California and the first inhabitants of the East Bay. The Chochenyo language died about 70 years ago. But thanks to the efforts of Vince Medina and Louis Trevino, Chochenyo is re-emerging as a spoken language. Vince opened the event by welcoming us in Chochenyo.

Next on the agenda was Leiz (Marc) Yauz-Cing and Lai Saephan, who represented Sacramento’s Iu Mien community. Two years ago, Lai spent 6 months studying the Mien language with Marc, who taught him not only the spoken language, but also how to read and write in Mien. Together, Lai and Marc told a Iu Mien story in two voices. Fortunately, their telling of “Hieh Mienh Gouv” (Wild Mien Story) was recorded.

Before Marc and Lai started their story, the wonderful Koy Saephan, Lai’s big sister (sitting next to us in the audience), shared that becoming fluent in his native language had changed Lai’s life. Their family had fled Laos to Thailand after the U.S. pulled out of the Vietnam War. When they were granted permission to come to the United States, Lai was only 9 months old. Like many refugee and immigrant children, his older siblings took care of him while his parents held multiple jobs. With the siblings naturally wanting to fit into American culture, they spoke English with each other. Therefore, as a child and into his adult years, Lai could not fully communicate with his Mien-speaking parents. Six months of studying Mien changed that – and his life (see more below).

The evening’s last story in two voices was a proverb told in Tigrigna, an endangered language from the African nation of Eritrea: Everything for My Own Kind, or, Our Donkey Is for Our Hyenas.

The closing activity, the Language Champions Panel, was equally powerful. Vince Medina and Lai Saephan were joined by Tigisti Weldeab, an immigrant from Eritrea. As soon as the video is posted, I’ll add it to this post. I still have a lump in my throat from Lai sharing that before he learned his native language, he used to stutter. No more.

Tigisiti shared what it was like arriving in Seattle as a 12 year old, wanting nothing more than to fit in, which meant speaking Tigrigna as little as possible. It was not until she started college and saw that her younger brother was losing the Tigrigna language that she realized the importance of keeping and promoting her native language.

It will be a long time to come before I forget these “treasure language” stories. Each story is now part of our shared community history. And each story provides a window into the challenges of losing one’s native language.

I’ve already marked my calendar for the February 21 Treasure Language Event, which coincides with International Mother Tongue Day and will therefore focus on women storytellers. I look forward to attending the event, both as a learner and as an educator. Given the diverse populations in California schools, with more than 88 languages and dialects spoken in my district, the “treasure language” stories should resonate with all who work with English Learner populations.

Please help spread the word about the Aikuna Project and the February 21 Treasure Language Event. If you, or someone you know, speak a “treasure language” (endangered language) and would be willing to be interviewed, please contact Robyn Perry at robyn@ischool.berkeley.edu or 831-332-4208.

 The living speakers of today’s disappearing languages are equipped to preserve their voices, their unique perspective on the world, and how they have managed to live sustainably in their homeland for centuries.” Steven Bird, Ph.D., Aikuma Project

Veterans Day Question: How can you be a refugee and a soldier at the same time?

Veterans Day Question: How can you be a refugee and a soldier at the same time?

Oct 31 dinner with Daniel Clune, US Ambassador to Lao PDR

Last weekend I had the privilege of joining Daniel Clune, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, for a Saturday night dinner with 300+ guests (mostly Hmong, Mien, Khmu, and Lao refugees from the Secret War), followed by a less formal, more intimate Sunday brunch. The dinner ignited a conversation and invitation for Sacramento’s Laotian community to give back to Laos by contributing to its much needed economic development.

Oct 31 dinner with Ambassador Clune. Photo Credit: Foom Tsab

 

Many of the people who attended the Sunday brunch had also attended the Saturday evening event. I think having a second get-together so close to the first encouraged guests to ask more personal questions. A common thread during Q & A  was the emotional pain shared by the in-between generation, who were only children when they and their parents escaped from Laos to Thailand and then made the life-changing journey to the U.S.

Ambassador Clune at Nov 1 brunch

Many who stood up to ask Ambassador Clune a question choked back tears or had trouble putting into words the sacrifices their parents had made and the enormous obstacles they faced to make a better future for their children. They referenced the courage of their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers, who put their lives on the line when they supported and fought along side U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. Because these veterans were classified as refugees, not soldiers fighting on behalf of the U.S., they have not been eligible for VA (Veterans Affairs) Benefits, including medical assistance.

As we head into the November 11 national celebration of Veterans Day, I recommend watching Vietnam War photographer Galen Beery’s powerful 12-minute documentary on how it is possible to be a refugee and a soldier:

I am deeply grateful to Elk Grove City Councilman Steve Ly for sending me the link to Galen Beery’s film, for including me in many special events within the Sacramento community and across the state, and especially for inspiring and supporting the Secret War in Laos Oral Histories Project. It feels as though the journey into researching and documenting this missing chapter in our history books is just beginning.

Ambassador_elk_grove550

NWP 20, Hmong 40

NWP 20, Hmong 40

Twenty years ago, I started on an amazing, ongoing professional development journey by applying for the Area 3 Writing Project’s Summer Institute (SI). I knew from the opening day that my SI experience would provide me with exceptional best practices in teaching writing and, equally important, with an incredible professional learning community. But in 1995, I certainly had no idea of the life-changing connections that would come my way as a result of my joining the NWP community. I’d like to share one of those connections.

At the close of the SI, A3WP director Jayne Marlink invited our group to a celebration at her home. As I entered her hallway, I was completely drawn into an elaborately decorated wall hanging. The intricate embroidery depicted groups of people clearly fleeing an area and attempting to cross a river. Soldiers were everywhere. That was my first time to see a Hmong story cloth. It was a gift, Jayne explained, from a former student, a Hmong student whose family had fled Laos after the U.S. pulled out of the Vietnam War.

I grew up with the Vietnam War. It was in the news during my high school years. By college, the war dominated the media, with an escalating protest movement on and beyond campuses. So I thought I knew about the Vietnam War, including its extension into Cambodia. But I do not remember any news coverage from Laos. The Hmong story cloth hanging in Jayne’s hallway was a new chapter for me. Over the years, I continued to “read” about the Hmong migration from Laos, mainly at Sacramento area farmers’ markets, where Hmong often sell story cloths along with their produce.

In 1998, I transferred from a small, semi-rural school district in the Sierra foothills to the Elk Grove School District, a rapidly-growing district in the south Sacramento area.  Prior to World War II, the Elk Grove-Florin area had been home to hundreds of Japanese-American families who farmed the region’s strawberry fields. When President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of all citizens of Japanese heritage from the West Coast, the history of this community overnight and forever changed. Few were able to return and reclaim their farms.

The Elk Grove USD annually commemorates the forced removal of its Japanese-American citizens through its Board Resolution 33: Day of Remembrance. As a technology integration specialist for the district, it has been my privilege to help document the internment stories through the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project.

History does have a tendency to repeat itself. Two wars later, the strawberry fields of Elk Grove-Florin are primarily farmed by Hmong and Mien. They are refugees of the “Secret War in Laos.” This year, 2015, marks the 40-year anniversary of the Hmong and Mien migration from Laos and Thailand to the United States. During the Vietnam War, the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency formed a secret alliance with the Hmong army to fight Laotian communists and the North Vietnamese. Shortly after the U.S. military abandoned Laos in 1974, the communist group Pathet Lao announced plans to wipe out both the Hmong and Mien. Their only option for survival was to flee Laos.

Yien Saetern: Elk Grove strawberry farm

It is through the vision and support of Steve Ly that have I become actively and deeply involved in researching and documenting the stories of the Secret War refugees. Steve’s family fled Laos when he was four. Thirty-eight years later, he was elected to the Elk Grove USD School Board, the first Hmong member. In his tenure, he introduced Board Resolution 59 to commemorate the critical role the Hmong played in supporting the U.S. during the Vietnam War, to celebrate relocation of over 100,000 Hmong to the U.S., and to encourage teaching students in grades 7-12 about the Secret War (in alignment with California AB 78). Forty years later, Steve now serves as the City of Elk Grove’s first Hmong City Councilman. Through text messages, emails, and phone calls, he keeps me in the loop on upcoming events in the Sacramento area, such as a recent CSU, Sacramento, presentation by author Gayle Morrison, or a local hosting of a Hmong Story 40 celebration.

Steve Ly: Thai refugee camp

To commemorate the 40-year anniversary of the Hmong and Mien exodus from Laos, my colleague, the very talented EGUSD graphic designer Kathleen Watt, and I have been developing and curating a new section on the TOR website: the Vietnam War. We currently have completed interviews with 10 Hmong and Mien refugees and are in the process of annotating each interview so that teachers can easily locate and share specific parts of the interviews. We’ve posted snippets of several interviews, and should have complete interviews available within the next few months. Thanks to Steve Ly, we’ve even connected with and interviewed five Ravens. Ravens were the U.S. fighter pilots used for forward air control in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency during America’s Vietnam War. The Ravens provided direction for most of the air strikes against communist Pathet Lao targets.

From my first foray into the Secret War in Laos via Jayne Marlink’s Hmong story cloth, I now have on my night stand a small but growing collection of publications on the Secret War: The Latehomecomer; Tragic Mountains; Hog’s Exit, Jerry Daniels, the Hmong, and the CIA; and The Ravens: The True Story of the Secret War. Kathleen and I connect almost daily to discuss “Secret War” updates to our TOR site and its accompanying TOR Talks site. Twenty years later, I could now confidently and enthusiastically provide a guided tour of Jayne’s story cloth, enriched by stories shared during our interviews.

It is through Writing Project networks that I’ve come to understand the value and importance of telling our stories. It is through the support of my department (EGUSD Technology Services), in partnership with our Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium, that I’ve been able to digitally document community stories from two separated yet connected wars.

As California commemorates the 40-year legacy of the Secret War in Laos, through projects such as Hmong Story 40, I eagerly anticipate expanding the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Archive and facilitating discussions on the TOR Talks site. Your input is warmly invited.

 

 

Tora! Tora! Tora! – Why students need access to primary sources

Tora! Tora! Tora! – Why students need access to primary sources

A local TV station kicked off the Veterans Day weekend with a showing of Tora! Tora! Tora! With an all-star cast, I certainly do not question why this 1970’s portrayal of the bombing of Pearl Harbor deserves recognition as an American classic. A number of lines from the movie, however, reminded me of the importance of providing students with access to a broad collection of primary sources for learning about World War II.

It is often through snippets of first-hand accounts of a historical event, that students begin to question information – such as the accounts provided by textbooks. As I listened to one of the American officers in Tora! Tora! Tora! explain that the real danger was the hundreds of Japanese living in Hawaii, I thought about a government propaganda clip, Japanese Relocation, that explained (justified) the need to remove thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese heritage from the West Coast. This government clip provides insight into the political climate of the war years.

But history is all about who is telling the story.  In working on the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, a project I’ve been involved in for that last six years, I find that with each new interview, my understanding of the internment experience deepens, as does my appreciation for war time complexities.

I recently added ten new interviews to the Time of Remembrance collection. Each story is a reminder of what can happen if we allow the loss of rights to any group of people to go unchallenged. Each story is also a reminder that history happens one story at a time.

The additions to the  Interview Archives include first-hand accounts from:

  • Jack Dairiki – Born in Sacramento, Jack recounts his trip to Japan in 1941, being caught there, and surviving the bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Jim Tanimoto – I met Jim last spring during an annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar. Jim’s story is the first in our collection from a No-No boy, a term for resisters. No-No boys answered “No” to questions 27 and 28 on the Loyalty Oath they were required to take.
  • Gary Shiota – Gary explains the issues of the Loyalty Oath.
  • Jim Tanaka – Jim provides a window into the 442nd experience and the experience of the 100th battalion from Hawaii.
  • Roy Sato – Roy shares experiences of signing up for draft and being classified as “4C” – an “enemy alien.”
  • Marion Kanemoto – One of the most powerful stories in the TOR collection, Marion tells of being sent to Japan as part of a prisoner exchange. In later years, with a little help from her law student son, she literally changes history.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be uploading a set of powerful lessons created by 12 teachers in my district.  This incredibly talented panel is making available to you grade-level (grades 5-12), standards-aligned lessons that weave in the TOR interview segments. You are free to download, share, and tweak these lessons in anyway that works best for you and your students.

It is my hope that the primary sources provided through the Time of Remembrance site will engage students in “doing history” as opposed to just “studying history.”  Whatever the historical event, all students should have opportunities to construct knowledge and exam differing points of view, and, in the process, gain a sense of what it was like to live through events from the past. The Common Core State Standards support the integration of primary sources into the curriculum because reading through first-hand accounts of any event invites the development of critical thinking and helps students to “distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.”

As for Tora! Tora! Tora!, it just seems that 70 years later, a movie trailer might be appropriate – one that makes clear that actually not a single Japanese-American citizen was ever found guilty of espionage or traitorous activities.

Wishing everyone a restful, reflective Veterans Day:-)

Constitution Day 2011 – A West Coast Perspective

Constitution Day 2011 – A West Coast Perspective

Image from the National Constitution Center

I teach in the Elk Grove School District, a large K-12 district south of Sacramento, California.  Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the history of this once rural community forever changed. As the nation entered World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal and “relocation” of thousands of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. Virtually overnight U.S. citizens of Japanese heritage disappeared from the farming communities of the Sacramento valley.

Today is September 17, the official date designated by legislation passed in 2005 to celebrate U.S. Constitution Day. The Japanese internment story is a powerful example of why it is so important for us (especially educators) to understand – and to be willing to fight for – the Constitutional Rights guaranteed to every citizen.

Last week I uploaded to my district’s Time of Remembrance website 10 new interviews with Japanese-Americans from the Sacramento area. Each story is a reminder of what can happen if we allow the loss of rights to any group of people to go unchallenged.

The new additions to the Time of Remembrance Interview Archives include first-hand accounts of the war years from:

  • Marielle Tsukamoto – As an educator (Elk Grove USD) and community activist, Marielle continues the legacy and work of her mother, Mary Tsukamoto, who was a driving force in the Smithsonian’s original exhibit: A More Perfect Union: Japanese-Americans and the US Constitution. Marielle shares her memories of both the camp experience (Jerome, Arkansas) and some of the realities faced by internees following their release from the camps.
  • Jack Dairiki – Born in Sacramento, Jack recounts his trip to Japan in 1941, being caught there, and surviving the bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Jim Tanimoto – I met Jim last spring during an annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar. Jim’s story is the first in our collection from a No-No boy, a term for resisters. No-No boys answered “No” to questions 27 and 28 on the Loyalty Oath they were required to take.

Constitution Day 2011 – a time to reflect on what it means to be an informed citizen and what’s worth fighting for.

 

The Power of One – A Time of Remembrance

The Power of One – A Time of Remembrance

fletcherThis morning’s Sacramento Bee has a feature story on Bob Fletcher. Who is Bob Fletcher? The Bee’s headline sums it up: “When Florin growers were interned in WWII, he stepped in.”

Too often for our students, history happens in a textbook, with the correct answers at the end of the chapter. Stories like Bob Fletcher’s show that history doesn’t just happen in a vacuum.  History happens in our communities.  History happens one story at a time.

The forced removal of thousands of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor is an example of when justice failed…and history happened in a local community.

Bob Fletcher’s courage in steeping in to help the Tsukamoto family at a time when our government chose to deny to entire group of people their Constitutional rights provides an important piece of the puzzle when trying to understand the conditions that are common to the exclusion and forced removal of any group of people.

It has been my good fortune to work with Marielle Tsukamoto on our on-going Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project – a race against time to preserve the living voices of those who witnessed first-hand acts of intolerance, but  who also remember the impact one “upstander” can have on a community and on history.

What’s missing from the article is that Marielle and other internees work tirelessly to share their stories of the war years, of intolerance, of resiliency, and of the power of one with school children throughout the greater Sacramento region through their annual Time of Remembrance exhibit at the California Museum of History, Women and the Arts and with students across the nation through our growing bank of Time of Remembrance online interviews.

Bob Fletcher’s story is about one person quietly but courageously making a difference.  It’s also a story the Bee probably would not have told during the war years.  A visit to CSUS’s City of Sacramento online archives brings up the following reference:

Not Black and White: The Sacramento Bee’s coverage of the Japanese Community from Pearl Harbor to Executive Order 9066 (2002)
CSH Call Number: ETHN WHI
Thaddeus David White researched Sacramento Bee articles to determine whether the newspaper actively promoted an anti-Japanese campaign after Pearl Harbor. The articles advocated tolerance and restraint, but supported mass evacuations.”

All the more reason why I was happy to start my day with today with Bob Fletcher’s story:-).

I bet you have students who would like to join the conversation at http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/2534367.html.

Skip to toolbar