The surge of children’s books, school curricula, films, websites, plays, and exhibitions about the wartime forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans has, for the most part, been a good thing. But because this is a complicated story and because many of those producing this new content are often not experts on the topic, some misinformation is being introduced too. In this new blog series, Densho Content Director Brian Niiya will look at aspects of the removal and incarceration that chroniclers often get wrong.
Twenty years ago, we set out with the goal of recording and preserving stories of World War II incarceration so that future generations could learn from them. That mission is reflected in our name, Densho, which means to pass along to the next generation. Now, two decades later, we host 900 interviews in our free online archive, and that number continues to grow.
We are pleased to announce that we will be launching a new and improved version of our online course later this summer! Watch this space for an announcement in the coming months. In the meantime, we’ve been working behind the scenes to refine the course and make it an even better product for teachers. Now, thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor, we are able to offer an honorarium to 50 Washington state-based secondary teachers to try out the course and provide feedback.
By now most of us have heard the news: former NYPD officer Peter Liang will serve no jail time for killing Akai Gurley. Liang was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter for accidentally shooting Gurley in a Brooklyn housing project stairwell and then (not accidentally) failing to call for help. On April 19, his conviction was reduced to criminally negligent homicide, for which he was sentenced to five years’ probation.
May Day is known the world over as a day of worker protest and rebellion. After the bloody Haymarket Riots of 1886, the May 1 holiday became so notorious for its association with anarchy and revolution that the US created an entirely separate holiday (Labor Day) as a more benign celebration of workers. Even so, May Day is still recognized as International Worker’s Day, and so we take this opportunity to pay tribute to Japanese Americans working in the coastal US prior to World War II.
Densho Content Director Brian Niiya reviews Relocating Authority: Japanese Americans Writing to Redress Mass Incarceration by Mira Shimabukuro (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2015). Join the author and Densho Director Tom Ikeda for a reading and conversation on May 5 at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience. Event information here.
Far too many Americans are completing primary, secondary, and even college education without learning about a critical moment in our shared history: the World War II mass incarceration of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent. To help remedy this, Densho is hosting a Digital Teach-In from May 1st through 6th.
Baseball season is here again! This favorite of American sports was also a popular pastime in Japanese American concentration camps. Here we delve into that history through an excerpt from Terumi Rafferty-Osaki’s encyclopedia entry on sports in World War II concentration camps. Scroll down for a photo essay and additional baseball resources from Densho Content Director Brian Niiya.
- Common Myths of WWII Incarceration: “More Than Half Were Children”
- Do You Have a Relative Who Was Interviewed by Densho?
- On Yuri Kochiyama’s 95th Birthday, 5 Enduring Quotes to Celebrate With
- Teaching with Primary Sources: Summer 2016 Demonstration Project
- Rooted in Japanese American Concentration Camps, “Model Minority” became Code for Anti-Black