Vol. 2 Issue 4                                                                                      April 2021
Manzanar Messenger

This month's Manzanar Messenger is dedicated to all of the Camp Pilgrimages throughout the years.
The long journey to remember what happened at Manzanar and  America's concentration camps and detention centers has been transformational. It began long before our "first" Pilgrimage in December of 1969, when some 200 Issei, Nisei, and Sansei participated in a community pilgrimage to learn about their past.  In fact, beginning in 1946 the Reverend Shinjo Nagatomi and Reverend Sentoku Maeda along with many congregants, returned annually to Manzanar to pray for the dead.  They were later joined by Shoichi Wakahiro, a Christian minister, thus laying the groundwork for today's Interfaith Ceremony.
That "first" community wide Pilgrimage took us on a journey to, as Sue K. Embrey said "seek our roots, to confront the monstrous tragedy...and to find ways to heal."
"We need to teach the history...and place it in historical perspective so that the Sansei may have the necessary tools to protect themselves against discrimination and racism which are inherent in American society."
Today we pay homage to the 11,000 persons of Japanese ancestry and their families and friends, who were imprisoned at Manzanar.  This year's Pilgrimage theme is "Upholding Democracy and Constitutional Rights for All: No More Concentration Camps."
We, like the founding members of the Manzanar Pilgrimage Committee, believe we need the tools to fight the inherent discrimination and systemic racism that Black, Indigenous, Latinx and all people of color face.  Our victories would be hollow if we fail to ally with others when they are threatened.  We must be at the forefront of standing up when others are attacked.  We must, as a community, continue to learn from history to make sure what happened to our community never happens again to anyone, anywhere.

We welcome your voice!

Manzanar Pilgrimage and the Search for Truth and Justice
by Bruce Embrey

In 1969, a small group of students and a handful of Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans; the children of immigrants) who lived behind barbed wire, journeyed to Manzanar to search for answers about their history. An imposing cemetery obelisk stood watch over a small grave site. Little was left in the desert, where not long ago, thousands of Japanese and Japanese Americans lived in one of America’s concentration camps.

Though they found little, they knew in their hearts and souls this was a special place. They knew this place held special significance for their families, their community, and their country. They set out to tell the world the story of America’s concentration camps and about the injustices of the forced removal of the Japanese American community during World War II.

Once back in Los Angeles, a small group, including Sue Kunitomi Embrey, Warren Furutani, Jim Matsuoka, and others, set out to make Manzanar a California State Historic Landmark. The battle for landmark status begged the questions: what was this place? What words describe what happened to us, to our families? Why were we forcibly removed and incarcerated in places far from our homes, isolated in primitive camps?

The wording they came up with was strong and direct. The former inmates used powerful words—racism, economic greed, violation of civil rights and concentration camp—to describe Manzanar.
here for the entire article

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A Community-Centered Response to Violence Against Asian American Communities
This statement was initiated by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and developed in collaboration with the Georgia NAACP and several BIPOC organizations

On March 16, eight people were killed at three different spas in North Georgia including six Asian women. We are heartbroken by these murders, which come at a time when Asian American communities are already grappling with the traumatic violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by the United States’ long history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and gender-based violence.
Click here to read the entire statement
Photo - Yahoo Photos

The Manzanar Committee Stands with Indigenous Leaders and Other Concerned Inyo County Residents to Oppose Open-Pit Mine

LOS ANGELES — On March 29, the Manzanar Committee announced that it has joined with leader of the Paiute, the Shoshone, the Timbisha Shoshone, and the Friends of the Inyo in opposing exploratory drilling and the proposed construction of an open-pit, cyanide heap leach mine at Conglomerate Mesa in Inyo County.

The Manzanar Committee’s mission leads us to oppose any project or corporate effort to exploit the land and resources of Payahuunadü (Owens Valley). We stand with the indigenous people of the area, as well as others in Inyo County, and call for their rights to be respected. They alone should determine the fate of the land and resources of the area.

Click here to read the entire statement

Lost to the Mountains,
Japanese Internee's Bones Return Home

by Brian Melley, AP Legal Reporter

Santa Monica, CA (AP) When Giichi Matsumura arrived at his final resting place in late December, the people who knew him best when he disappeared from a Japanese internment camp in 1945 already were there.

His wife, Ito, who had mourned his passing for 60 years before her death in 2005, was buried in the same plot, as was his daughter, Kazue, who died in 2018. His father, Katsuzo, who died in 1963, was nearby. His brother and two of his three sons were a short walk away, all buried in the shady, grassy haven of Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica.
Click Here to read the story

Be Still and Listen: My First Visit to Manzanar
By Darrell Warren, Manzanar Committee member

I had never seen the Eastern Sierras. The highway, mostly straight, curled slightly out of Lone Pine through a desert which seemed starker, maybe more untouched, than my usual route of travel through the Central Valley. I was driving from the Los Angeles area to Yosemite. Instead of grapevines, vegetables, and fields of green alfalfa, the way was spotted with sagebrush and creosote bush. There was a starkness to the land, bordered on the western horizon by the Sierras’ granite backbone.

Memories are strange. Some make more sense years later, marinating slowly over one’s lifetime in a stew of experience. This is how I would characterize my first visit to Manzanar. I don’t know when or where I had even first heard the name Manzanar. Maybe in high school. A seed planted by someone, somewhere must have taken tenuous fragile root in the back of my mind. But my foggy notion of its history, even then, in my early twenties, drew me. If asked on that day, I would have said that I was driving to Yosemite. But now, some forty years later, I realize that I was on a different sort of journey. Driving my old Dodge truck up Highway 395, I turned off the highway and wondered if I were really in the right place.
Click here to read the rest of Darrell's story

Katari Student Reflections

"Gave Me the Tools to Continue to Uplift Different Stories and Fight for Marginalized Groups" - Yuki Torrey
Click here to read Yuki's entire reflection

Photo provided by Yuki Torrey

"We Should Band Together and Stand in Solidarity With Groups Who Face Similar Discrimination and Harassment" - Ethan Gan
here to read Ethan's entire reflection

Photo provided by Ethan Gan

Sue Kunitomi Embrey
Student Awards Program

The Manzanar Committee is proud to announce the 6th Annual Sue Kunitomi Embrey Student Awards Program.  The information packet, application, and contacts to answer your questions are on the Manzanar Committee website at this link.   There are many resources available and we encourage all students K-12 to participate! Deadline for submission is Monday, May 10, 2021.

Educators' Corner
Teaching Japanese American Incarceration Through Graphic Novels
Graphic novels are an effective and engaging technique to not only teach concepts but also to have students creatively demonstrate their understanding of complex historical concepts. According to the School Library Journal’s article "Teaching with Graphic Novels", the advantages of using comics and graphic novels as supplemental texts include:
  • supporting readers and promoting memory through pairing of image and text
  • modeling concise verbiage for skilled readers
  • communicating ideas efficiently
Follow this link to graphic novels and a lesson with templates for students to create their own graphic novels on JA Incarceration
Sue Kunitomi Embrey
Student Awards Program Winner

 Marlo Tanimoto  Kindergarten
2019 Student Awards First Place

When my Tani (grandma) was five, she was sent to "prison" at Poston.  I am now five.  I am an American like my Tani.  I don't want to be sent to prison.  That's not fair. 
Upcoming Dates & Events

April 8, 2021
2:00 PM PST
Connecting Asian American History & Anti-Asian Racism
Educators' Webinar Register here

April 3, 2021
Jerome Virtual Pilgrimage

Check out JAMPilgrimages FB pg

April 15, 2021
VJAMM Virtual Commemoration
11am via

Fundraiser at Hama Sushi
4:00-9:00 PM 

April 24, 2021
52nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage
via Manzanar Committee Youtube
Manzanar At Dusk (MAD) program via Zoom.
Click here to RSVP

May 10, 2021
Student Awards applications & projects due

Click for more information

May 22, 2021
"The Betrayed" 
An Online benefit screening for the Watsonville Buddhist Temple 
Click here to register

Spam Musubi
Orange County Buddhist Church "Generation to Generation Family Cookbook Vol II"

5 cups of Japanese rice, washed & cooked
1 can (12 oz) Spam, sliced into 10 pieces, lengthwise
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 pkg (10 sheets) roasted sushi nori, cut in half lengthwise


Click for entire recipe
Picture from

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