Join us on Saturday, July 23, at 1 p.m. for a conversation with Densho’s executive director Tom Ikeda, Michael Shiosaki of Seattle Parks and Recreation, and author Daniel James Brown about writing Facing the Mountain and the importance of oral histories in revealing a legacy of resilience and courage. The event will include a book signing with the author, with books available for purchase in partnership with Elliott Bay Book Company. Check out this list of further reading and resources around the Internment in our library catalog, and see past Shelf Talk posts on this topic here.
If you aren’t familiar with the local nonprofit organization Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, come learn about the incredible work they do collecting and preserving the legacy of Japanese Americans unjustly relocated and incarcerated during World War II. And if you are familiar with Densho, take a second look, because there is so much more to discover, including a podcast, interactive maps, digitized documents from the 1940s and beyond, and over 900 oral histories recorded to date—all available online. The incredible depth, breadth, and accessibility of these sources make books like Facing the Mountain: An Inspiring Story of Japanese American Patriots in World War II , by Daniel James Brown possible.
Densho’s work chronicles events leading up to and the 80 years since the spring of 1942, when the United States passed Executive Order 9066 to forcibly remove and incarcerate “all persons of Japanese ancestry, including aliens and non-aliens” from “military zones” on the West Coast. Some 120,000 residents of Japanese ancestry, many from Western Washington, were incarcerated in camps across the United States. Entire families, from infants to elders, were taken from their homes and livelihoods, forced to live in poor conditions with no freedom to come or go. Some people, like young University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi, objected to being incarcerated; he refused to board a bus and was taken to King County jail to await legal action that would end up spanning years as he and others challenged Order 9066’s legality. An additional 1,500 Japanese American and Hawaiian men were drafted or volunteered to fight in World War II, such as the all-volunteer 442nd Regimental Combat Team, even as their families were imprisoned by the country they fought for. Continue reading “In Their Own Words: Densho and Japanese Americans making oral history”