Vol. 1 Issue 2                                                                                       October 2020

Manzanar Messenger

Voting is a Right in Our Democracy
Voting is central to our democracy. The ability to have a voice in choosing who represents us, who makes decisions that impact our lives, our families, and communities is a cornerstone of our democracy. Voting is key to the realization of the promise of the Constitution of the United States.
At our nation's founding, voting was only for white men who owned property. It took nearly two centuries for our country to meaningfully extend the right to vote for African Americans, Native Americans, women and people of color. Today the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and many of our civil rights, won through decades of struggle by the African American community and communities of color, are being actively undermined. And since 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, we are facing an unrelenting, organized attack on our right to vote.
Historically, Japanese Americans have not escaped voter suppression. Unable to become citizens for decades, the Issei couldn't vote, own land or engage in many professions. Furthermore, one of the results of the mass incarceration of the Japanese American community during WWII was effectively losing the right to vote. Not only were many blocked from voting, but many families lost their citizenship and their right to vote for many years after WWII.
This, our lead article, touches on how important the right to vote is to our democracy. Our community's experience offers important lessons, most notably, the struggle against systemic racism, and, in a broader sense, the preservation of democracy.  We want to share our stories to educate and draw out how our experience holds important lessons for our country's future.
Please let us know what you think!

The Struggle for Voting Rights In Camps
By Darrell Warren, Manzanar Committee

A headline from the 1944 Rohwer Outpost decries “Wyoming Election Bars Evacuee Voting Rights.” Although forced without a trial to live in Wyoming, Heart Mountain prisoners were denied the right to vote in Wyoming elections, ostensibly because they were residing “on military outposts and stations, which are federal, not state property.” 
To read the entire article, click here
Picture: Rohwer Outpost Newsletter from Densho

"Passing Judgment"
By T.U.
From Manzanar Free Press
August 26,1942
The sending of over two thousand absentee ballots to Japanese evacuee citizens in assembly and relocation centers has brought divergent views, mostly critical, in the metropolitan newspapers of Los Angeles.  The majority of the people interviewed by one reactionary Hearst newspaper have said that the Japanese should not be given the privilege of voting since the Japanese are wards of the federal government
Click here to read the transcription.
The State of Native American
Voting Rights

 by Peter Dunphy at Brennan Center for Justice 
Lawmakers must seize new opportunities to ensure political equality and fair access to the ballot box for Native American communities.
Click here to read the entire article.
Picture:  Courtesy of MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show

Race and Voting in the Segregated South
After returning home from WWII, veteran Medgar Evers decided to vote in a Mississippi election. But when he and some black ex-servicemen attempted to vote, a white mob stopped them.
Click to read the rest of the article from the Constitutional Rights Foundation

Picture: Getty Images: Black voters go to the polls in South Carolina for the first time since Reconstruction era, after the Supreme Court ruled they could not be deprived of the right to vote, Aug. 11, 1948.
Who Belongs and Who Doesn't.
The following was originally published in the printed program for the 49th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage,
April 28, 2018 by Jim Matsuoka

In 1942, we were thought to be unassimilable and a threat to American society. Time and historical fact has shown otherwise, but we know the consequences of being seen as a statistical mass of of people who were forced to exist outside the framework of America’s laws..
Fletcher Bowron, Not in his Name
by Steve Nagano
Few of Los Angeles Japanese know of Mayor Fetcher Bowron (1938-1953), fewer yet know of a square adjacent to city hall, and probably even fewer among us know of his role in our lives.  It was over a year ago that I first learned of the square

I had seen photos of the Nisei Week court smiling with the mayor at City Hall, but an L.A. Times article (5/20/1943) with a headline, "Bowron Hopes Jap-Americans Never Return to Los Angeles," caused me to flippantly remark, "We gotta change that name!"

To read the entire article, click here
Top Picture: LA Times May 20, 1943

by Greg Robinson

Hugh MacBeth, Sr. (pictured), an African American attorney from Los Angeles, is largely forgotten today, but he deserves commemoration as an outstanding defender of Japanese Americans during World War II.

  • Check your voter registration
  • Register to vote
  • Vote by mail guidelines
  • Polling Place locator
  • Election deadlines, dates & rules by state
  • Guideline to your voting rights
Upcoming Events
October 10 & 24: Tsuru for Solidarity - Community Conversations
October 17-18: JACSC Virtual Education Conf Hosted by JANM
Register at JANM website
October 19:  Last day to register by mail and online in California
October 24:  DENSHO Dinner @ Home 2020   To register
A new interactive educational game for middle school students has recently gone live. Mission US: Prisoner in my Homeland  
The year is 1941. You are 16-year-old Henry Tanaka. When the government forces you and 120,000 other innocent Japanese Americans into camps, how will you react?
Visit Mission US for the program and free supporting teacher's guide.
Do You Want to Learn More???
Follow the link below to see if you can pass the 1965 Alabama Constitution test to vote.  See if you would have been allowed to vote
Student Awards Program
Senior High School Division  First Place Winner
Juan Constantino

When Will They Ever Learn?
Due to Covid-19, people are being made to stay home to prevent a major spread of the virus.  Being deemed a pandemic, this virus has caused great hysteria and fear among the people, both here and throughout the world. This connects to what was going on during World War II with the feeling of fear and the mass hysteria, both events causing many people to act irrationally.
To read the entire essay click here.

Projects from other Student Awards Program winners will be posted in upcoming Manzanar Messengers!

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