Vol. 1 Issue 3                                                                                       November 2020

Manzanar Messenger

As we enter the month of November, the Manzanar Committee recognizes and honors the history and contributions of Native Americans.  This is a season when many of us take time to ponder why we should be thankful and acknowledge the contributions all people.  We live in a country in which democracy and constitutional rights should rightfully be extended to all, not just afforded to a privileged few.  Both the concept and full reach of democracy, however, have been tested and challenged throughout our history.  This year, being no exception, has brought forth many tests and challenges, some new and others having already been seen all too often in the past.
Interpreting our past and ensuring that history is seen through a clear lens and not distorted by cultural biases and hidden political agendas requires a diligence that includes the fair recognition of the contributions from all people.  It is not a matter of rewriting history but rather a task of recording the initial truth.  We see today a movement to correct the wrongs of the past that have denied many people of color equal protection under the Constitution.  We hear cries to address systemic racism.  We heed the calls to abolish monuments that commemorate, glorify, and twistedly reinterpret a racist past.  The time has come to erect new monuments, both figuratively and literally, to the many untold stories of truth, expanding our democracy and securing "the blessings of liberty" promised to us all.
As Japanese Americans, we have made tremendous strides in telling our stories, accurately recording history, and building impressive monuments to freedom and democracy like the Manzanar National Historic Site.  Still, however, there is much more to do.  The preservation and maintenance of democracy is an ongoing job, requiring participation, diligence, and hard work.  This month's Manzanar Messenger includes an untold story of a monument built by Issei prisoners at Topaz to pay homage to James Wakasa.  The monument, however, was subsequently demolished under pressure from the WRA.  James Wakasa was a victim of our World War II concentration camps.  Both the former monument and James Wakasa's true story have been casualties of a distorted history.  Both need to be rebuilt and restored!
Please let us know what you think!
The Demolished Memorial

At the former Topaz concentration camp in Utah, there's only dry grass where a concrete monument once stood, to mark where an innocent man was killed by a guard tower sentry. The man was walking his dog after dinner.  His name was James Hatsuki Wakasa.

Read the story of “The Demolished Monument” 
Picture: "April 11, 1943. Hatsuki Wakasa Shot by M.P." by Chiura Obata, courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History
That Damned Fence
Anonymous Poem Circulated at Poston Camp
They've sunk the posts deep into the ground
They've strung out wires all the way around.
With machine gun nests just over there,
And sentries and soldiers everywhere.
We're trapped like rats in a wired cage,
To fret and fume with impotent rage;
Yonder whispers the lure of the night,
But that DAMNED FENCE assails our sight.
We seek the softness of the midnight air,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
Awakens unrest in our nocturnal quest,
And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
We feel terrible, lonesome, and blue:
That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
Destroying our youth and making us lazy.
Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
We know we're punished--though we've committed no crime,
Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
To be locked up in a concentration camp.
Loyalty we know, and patriotism we feel,
To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
To fight for our country, and die, perhaps;
But we're here because we happen to be Japs.
We all love life, and our country best,
Our misfortune to be here in the west,
To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
Is someone's notion of NATIONAL DEFENCE!

Building the Future Through the Student Awards Program
The Manzanar Student Awards Program recognizes students who demonstrate an understanding of the guiding principles of civil rights and social justice through their projects. We are proud to announce the winners of our fifth annual student awards program. We particularly want to commend all of our student participants, their families, their hard-working teachers for their efforts, especially given that the projects were submitted after schools had closed due to safety concerns. All involved went above and beyond, communicating, diligently completing, and submitting projects online. We hope to acknowledge our award winners in person in next year, and we thank you for your dedication and hard work. 
To see our list of winners click here  
Picture above is from the 4th annual student awards program winners 2019
A Civil Rights Journey

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization produced "Muslims at Manzanar: A Civil Rights Journey." The documentary follows CAIR staff as they participated in the 2019 Manzanar Pilgrimage that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first organized Manzanar Pilgrimage in 1969.
"It is imperative that we understand the deep injustice experienced by our Japanese American brothers and sisters.  It is important that we learn from this shameful period in our nation's history and endeavor to prevent similar injustices in the future," said CAIR National Chapter Manager Asma Rehman, who produced and directed this documentary
Click here to watch "Muslims at Manzanar: A Civil Rights Journey
JANM hosted a Virtual Panel discussion about the CAIR produced film: . Muslims at Manzanar: A Civil Rights Journey. Leaders of the Japanese American and Muslim American communities explored the importance of sharing our connected histories and experiences as well as the power of the pilgrimage and honoring significant sites in our histories. Panelists included Hussam Ayloush (CAIR-LA Executive Director), Eugene Fields (CAIR-LA Communications Manager), Bruce Embrey (Manzanar Committee Co-Chair) and Erin Aoyama (Minidoka National Historic Site
The link will be posted on social media once it is released

Rockin' the Boat Brings Movement Back to the Future

Los Angeles - The UCLA Asian American Studies Center (AASC) is pleased to announce the release of Rockin' the Boat: Flashbacks of the 1970's Asian Movement, co-published and written by Mary Uyematsu Kao.  It is a striking visual journey into the Asian American Movement from 1969-1974. presenting never-before-seen black and white photographs by Kao, juxtaposed with first-person narratives of the political issues that sparked a youth movement and broke the model minority mold.

Click to read more about this publication

Densho Podcast: Campu
Densho's new podcast, Campu, tells the story of Japanese American incarceration like you've never heard it before. Each podcast episode weaves together the voices of survivors to spin narratives out of the seemingly mundane things that gave shape to the incarceration experience: rocks, fences, food, paper.  Follow along as the podcasts move far beyond the standard Japanese American incarceration 101 and into more intimate and lesser-known corners of this history.
Click here to learn more about the podcast.
Upcoming Events

November 15th at 2pm 
 A Taste of Home: Building the Flavors of Japanese America
JANM website
November 19, 2020 at 4pm
History of Racism & Resistance in America presentation
Live on YouTube and Facebook on CAIR social media pages
November 19th at 5pm  
Stronger Together: Black Liberation and Asian Solidarity
JANM website
December 16, 2020 at 6:30

Japanese Holiday with Chef Akira and Family
Register at
The Japanese American National Museum's Education Unit is now offering virtual visits!  Virtual visits are available for grades 1-12, college, and adult groups.  Virtual visits are available via Zoom, or other video-conferencing technology every Monday - Friday with visits running 45-60 minutes, depending on grade level.  Fee is based on number of participants but Bid for Education grant will cover all costs for Title I schools.
For more information, go to:
Student Awards Program
Perrin Tanimoto  3rd-5th grade  First place winner

We Are Americans
They took us 
from our homes
We are Americans
They rid us
of our belongings
We are Americans

They held us
We are Americans
They called us
the enemy
We are Americans
This happened
Our lesson 
Yet it still happens
Maybe not to us
but to others
So remember
We are all Americans
Camp Recipes
Topaz Saturday Times, Vol II,No.13, Jan. 16, 1943
Food Fancies, by Evelyn Kimura, was a column in the Topaz Saturday Times about all things food.  In the wake of forced incarceration, Japanese American used what little resources they had to make some of their favorite meals.  According to Mira, the key to at-home cooking was simplicity.
Camp cooking is a legacy that has been passed down to many of us through the generations.  While we spend our current hours social-distancing and rationing food, we can call upon the lessons from those who came before us.
here to see Homemade noodles, courtesy of Mrs J Yanagizawa of 14-1-A 
Click here to visit our Website
© 2020 Manzanar Committee Email Outreach, All rights reserved.