Berry season is in full swing, with farmer’s markets and produce departments across the country overflowing with these quintessential summer fruits. But the story isn’t always so sweet for the migrant workers who harvest berries in fields across the United States. A conflict between Mexican migrant workers and the Japanese American family owned Sakuma Brothers berry farm in Washington state, shows just how thorny the harvest can be.
The story of the “strandees”—the period term for Nisei trapped in Japan when passage back to the U.S. was effectively cut off from late 1941 until a year two after the war ended—doesn’t easily fall into the traditional narratives of Japanese American loyalty. As a result, as Densho Content Director Brian Niiya argues, their stories have been largely left out of Japanese American history. Here, Niiya provides a glimpse into their lives and the few scholarly and creative works that have addressed them.
In this special report from the annual pilgrimage to the site of the Minidoka concentration camp, Dr. Eugene H. Freund writes about a presentation on Hunt High School principal Jerome T. Light. In the research Dr. Freund conducted with Todd Mayberry, Director of Collections and Exhibits at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, the two used Densho materials to bring Light’s extraordinary commitment to his students at Minidoka to the fore.
This weekend, cities along the west coast will hold their annual Bon festivals. Bon Odori communal folk dances are a central part of the bon festival, a Buddhist summer ceremony in which the spirits of departed ancestors are welcomed back to the world of the living for their annual visit.
Ah, the Fourth of July, that special day when we celebrate the wealthy colonialists who birthed our nation by drinking several tons of “America” and making stuff go boom. All jokes aside, for minority groups whose history in America is defined by state-sponsored exclusion and violence, there’s a certain irony to the freedom-loving fanfare that surrounds Independence Day.
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.
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