Vol. 1 Issue 4                                                                                       December 2020

Manzanar Messenger

In this issue of the Manzanar Messenger we highlight several stories from our history which we believe hold lessons for our work today.

Personal recollections, remembering and writing our own history is an act of liberation. We hope to include first person personal recollections of life in camp. In this issue Joyce Okazaki, long time member of the Manzanar Committee, remembers one particular Christmas dinner. We would love to hear your or your family’s stories too.

Working to unearth and interpret the hidden history of life behind barbed wire was key to mobilizing our community to demand and win redress and reparations. Stories of persistence and perseverance, the valiant actions of the storied 442nd/100th battalion and Military Intelligence Service are well known. Other important stories from camp are still unknown or not fully understood. In December of 1942, Manzanar was shaken by a violent confrontation between the administration and inmates. The event tragically ended with the shooting of eleven inmates and the ultimate deaths of two young men, Jimmy Ito and James Kanagawa. For years it was known as the Manzanar Riot. We ask today, what is the difference between an uprising, a riot, and a revolt? Looking at the three distinct words, we ask if what occurred at Manzanar between December 4-6, 1942 should be historically characterized as an uprising (resistance), a riot (a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd), or a revolt (rise in rebellion). To understand the impact that words have on the way we view this event and to deepen our understanding of resistance in the camps,  we encourage you to read first person testimonies by Nikkei witnesses to the event. We recommend "Barbed Voices" written by Dr Arthur A Hansen. The book is available at the Japanese American National Museum or Manzanar Books/Webstore 

The Manzanar Committee has always centered our struggle for justice with a view that we must understand its context within the broader struggle for justice and equality across the board. We know the importance of a clear and accurate understanding of history, and we value our support for other communities as we see and value their support for us. We have all faced, and continue to face, similar issues.  

In this issue we include an article on the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee. Our founder, Sue Kunitomi Embrey wrote a letter of support in solidarity with the protest and occupation of Wounded Knee. Please read the letter and note the unfortunate continuing historical parallels.  As she wrote, it is "the same struggle with many fronts."

We hope you are inspired by our articles and stories. Please let us know what you think. We welcome your voice!

Manzanar and Wounded Knee:
"The Same Struggle with Many Fronts"

Our Manzanar Committee strives to educate and raise public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of Japanese Americans during World War II.  But our mission statement also calls for a dedication "to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional Rights are in danger."  Historically our Committee has supported many diverse causes, standing solidly for justice and equal treatment for all people. In 1973, our Manzanar Committee's co-founder, Sue Kunitomi Embrey, issued a statement in support of Native American Rights and the activists at Wounded Knee that exemplifies this fundamental and time-honored principle.
Click here to continue reading the article
Click here to view the statement

Sue Kunitomi Embrey Student Awards Program

For five years the Manzanar Committee has sponsored an awards program that encourages young people to reflect on civil rights issues and consider how they can support and actively participate in social justice issues that impact their communities. We are renaming the program, the Sue Kunitomi Embrey Student Awards Program.

As a founding member of the Manzanar Committee, Sue Kunitomi Embrey was an educator, community activist, labor union organizer, writer and member of the Day of Remembrance Los Angeles Planning Committee. She was a role model for many Sansei and Yonsei as she fought tirelessly to establish Manzanar as a National Historic Site and become part of the National Parks Service. She was instrumental in organizing the annual pilgrimages to Manzanar (now in its 52nd year) to ensure that this dark chapter of American history is never forgotten  Sue’s life demonstrates how a principled person of vision can impact the world and she is a fitting inspiration for the young students who participate in the program.

The information and application for the sixth Sue Kunitomi Embrey Student Awards Program will be available at the beginning of 2021. We encourage all students K-12 to participate!

artwork by Tyler Higuchi   1st place  6th-8th grade- Visual Arts category

Click here to read Tyler's explanation of his art piece

A Civil Rights Journey
On September 15, 2020, leaders in the Japanese American and Muslim American communities came together for a conversation on "Muslims at Manzanar: A Civil Rights Journey," produced by the Council for American Islamic Relations.  Participating on the panel discussion were: Hussam Ayloush (CAIR-LA Executive Director), Eugene Fields (CAIR-LA Communications Director), Bruce Embrey (Manzanar Committee, Co-Chair) and Erin Aoyama (moderator). This documentary follows CAIR staff as they participate in the 2019 Manzanar Pilgrimage that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first organized Manzanar Pilgrimage in 1969. The conversation explored the importance of sharing our connected histories and  experiences as well as the power of pilgrimage and honoring significant sites in our histories.
To watch the entire panel discussion click here
The History of Racism & Resistance in America: Japanese Incarceration
On November 19, 2020, Manzanar Committee member, Joyce Okazaki was the presenter for the CAIR-Michigan series: "The History of Racism & Resistance in America" This episode specifically focused on the circumstances surrounding the Japanese Americans being immorally rounded up and sent to imprisonment camps during the WWII era.  Joyce Okazaki, whose family was sent to Manzanar concentration camp, was six years old when she was incarcerated.
We encourage you to click here to watch the episode
photo from NYtimes

My Story of Christmas Dinner 1943
By Joyce Okazaki

In December of 1943, a strange thing happened at Block 12 in Manzanar.  It was a Saturday, there was no school and I was in the 5th grade. I lived in Block 12 and our unit was next to the firebreak.  Everyone was walking along this area toward the mess hall, so I decided to follow them.  At that time, anything different was a crowd gatherer.   When I got there, a lot of people were watching this spectacle.  There was a huge cage or what I thought was large for my nine year old mind.  There were several men, several large metal containers and a table outside.
Click here to continue reading

Educators' Corner
For educators looking for resources focusing on the mass evacuation of Japanese Americans during WWII, we recommend "The Orange Story."  In a series of vignettes, an  elderly Japanese American man must sell all his belongings and report to a temporary detention centre during WWII from where he will be forcibly removed to an undisclosed location.  Included are various resources for teachers and questions for students to consider
Sue Kunitomi Embrey
Student Awards Program

Yanira Carrera 1st place  
Grades 1-2 - Written category

I should not be sent to camp because camp is just like jail. I did not do anything wrong. And I am harmless. Why would I even want to go live in a cold place with a light sweetr. And all of time we do not get to deseide if we want to go. Why would they just tell us to go if we do not want to. The govrmet should (not send us) to camp if we did not hurt anybuty. I should get to deseide what I want for my life.
Important Dates

December 1, 1955
65th Anniversary of  Rosa Parks'
arrest for refusing to give up her bus seat. 

December 4 - 6, 1942
Manzanar Revolt
December 27, 1969
First organized community
Manzanar Pilgrimage

Upcoming Events

December 10, 2020 at 12:00

Untold Stories of Nikkei California 
To register, click
December 13, 2020 at  2:00pm
A Taste of Home: Recipes for Celebration
To register: click
December 16, 2020 at 6:30
Japanese Holiday with Chef Akira and Family
Register at
Online Holiday Resources

JAMP Holiday Special:

Go Little Tokyo for the Holidays:

Shogun Santa: December 12-13th, and 19-20th, from 11-3pm
at the Japanese Village Plaza
Camp Recipes
Weenie Royale Recipe


1/2 white or yellow onions, chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 hot dogs

3 eggs

Cooked white rice


Saute the chopped onions with a tablespoon of soy sauce and cook at medium to high heat until they are caramelized. While you wait for the onions to caramelize, cut the hot dogs in julienne slices and beat the eggs. After the onions are caramelized, add the hot dogs and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the beaten eggs to the onions and hot dogs until the eggs are done. Serve on top of cooked white rice.

Click here to see the entire recipe and listen to short podcasts of this and other recipes
Photo from NPR
Click here to visit our Website
© 2020 Manzanar Committee Email Outreach, All rights reserved.