Seventy-five years ago, approximately 7,000 Seattleites were ordered by the U.S. military to leave their homes and sent to incarceration camps. Most ended up at desolate Minidoka in southern Idaho. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed on February 19, 1942, two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, forcibly evacuated 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the Pacific Coast to one of ten concentration camps scattered across the country, where they would remain imprisoned for the duration of World War II until 1945.
Originally citing national security as justification, the government later admitted that the evacuations were unjust and “carried out without adequate security reasons.” Following a successful campaign for redress and reparations, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, officially apologizing on behalf of the United States government. In the act Congress called the incarcerations a “grave injustice,” which was “motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
The Seattle organization Densho has been working hard, through its online archives and oral histories, to tell the story of Japanese American incarceration in order to educate the public not only about the past, but to also shed light on issues of equity today, including the racism and harassment currently experienced by American Muslims. To observe the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, the Library will co-host the event, Never Again: Japanese American WWII History and American Muslim Rights Today at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion with speakers from Densho, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the ACLU of Washington this Sunday, February 19 at 2:00 P.M.
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is also marking this anniversary with its new exhibit, Year of Remembrance: Glimpses of a Forever Foreigner, which runs February 16, 2017 to February 11, 2018. It, too, will explore past and present issues of discrimination and human rights. Check out this booklist and resource guide, created by the Nisei Veterans Committee, the Wing Luke Museum, and staff at The Seattle Public Library’s International District/Chinatown Branch to accompany the exhibit.
– Posted by Heather M.