Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) has announced two new virtual programs that explore the World War II Japanese American experience and its relevance to issues of social justice and democracy facing all Americans today.
In recognition and support of the Black community, GFBNEC will share virtual stories of Black WWII soldiers as part of its series “Heroes Among Us: Stories of Courage, Sacrifice and Patriotism.” The new segment, which started July 30, will present six little-known stories of Black veterans who valiantly served during WWII while in their own segregated units.
“Heroes Among Us” is an ongoing series featuring curated video clips from GFBNEC’s Hanashi Oral History Collection, an archive of more than 1,200 first-person interviews from Japanese American WWII veterans. The series is available to subscribers of GFBNEC’s eTorch newsletter, available twice monthly free of charge by joining through www.goforbroke.org. The videos are also available on GFBNEC’s website and “Heroes Among Us” YouTube playlist.
“Our nation currently finds itself struggling with a crisis of conscience,” Mitchell T. Maki, Ph.D., GFBNEC’s president and chief executive officer, said. “Despite the promise of American democracy, not all people have been embraced by our value of equality. The Black soldiers of World War II faced great discrimination both on the battlefield and at home. Yet they upheld America’s promise, and today they provide us with a sense of moral direction.”
On Sunday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. PDT, in collaboration with Tadaima! Community Virtual Pilgrimage, GFBNEC will present “Civil Liberties Act of 1988: Keeping America’s Promise,” a virtual program on the Japanese American redress movement and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The unprecedented legislation marked the strength of the U.S. government in admitting a grave wrong in incarcerating approximately 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent during WWII. The establishment of redress payments both acknowledged and atoned for one of the most egregious government violations of the Constitution.
The program includes an overview of the redress movement by Maki followed by a Q&A discussion with Maki and Staci Toji, a member of GFBNEC’s Board of Directors. “I remember my grandmother receiving her redress check because of the time she was incarcerated at Gila River,” said Toji, a Yonsei whose family was incarcerated. “But the truth is I knew so little about the redress movement. Listening to Mitch share powerful stories of how Congress came to pass the legislation and President Reagan to sign it gave me a deeper appreciation for all who made this apology possible.”
Maki noted that the nation continues to debate issues of due process and social justice today. “The Japanese American redress movement is the story of a small, disenfranchised community that endured racism, war hysteria, and unconstitutional federal actions. The community initially blamed itself for this travesty of justice, but eventually discovered its courage and collective voice to demand acknowledgement and an apology. The story also involved our nation being able to look back at its past wrong and, in a measured way, atone for that violation of trust. This legislation involved contributions from the Japanese American World War II veterans to community activists to Americans of all ethnic backgrounds.”
Tadaima! Community Virtual Pilgrimage is a collaborative effort of several Nikkei organizations, educators, artists and scholars dedicated to the history and lessons of the WWII Japanese American incarceration. (In Japanese, tadaima means “I’m home.”) The redress program will be available on www.goforbroke.org, Facebook, and YouTube.
Funding for the redress program has been provided by the California Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.
For more information on GFBNEC and its educational programming, contact Janis Tanji Wong, vice president of development and strategic initiatives, at [email protected], or call (213) 375-1282.