“Democracy in Crisis: 1942 & 2020” is the theme for the 2020 Los Angeles Day of Remembrance (DOR), scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.
The Day of Remembrance is held annually to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, which resulted in the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents in American concentration camps and other confinement sites during World War II.
“Our democracy failed us in 1942 when the guarantees of equal protection and due process of law under the Constitution were denied to Japanese Americans, who were removed from the West Coast and incarcerated without any formal charges or trial,” stated Richard Katsuda,
DOR committee member and co-chair of Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR). “Today, we are caught in the midst of another crisis of our democracy in which our Constitution’s very foundation of separation of powers and checks and balances is being gravely tested.
“May our president do anything he pleases with impunity, as he claims the Constitution gives him the right to do? No! He may not undermine our entire democratic system.”
The 2020 DOR program, emceed by Nikkei Progressives and NCRR member Tony Osumi and his daughter, Maiya Kuida-Osumi, will feature Dr. Satsuki Ina as keynote speaker and videotaped remarks from Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), along with a poetry reading by Sara Omura, accompanied on guitar by her father Glenn Suravech, and musical performances by George Abe.
As a psychotherapist, writer and activist, Ina, who was born at the Tule Lake Segregation Center during World War II, has spent her professional career seeking to understand the long-term impact of collective and historical trauma.
Ina was born “doing time” at the Tule Lake, a maximum security American concentration camp. She is a professor emeritus at CSU Sacramento and currently provides consultation to organizations and communities addressing collective and intergenerational trauma. She is co-organizer of Tsuru for Solidarity, a direct-action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end immigrant detention sites and to support front-line immigrant, refugee, and religious communities targeted today by racist, inhumane policies echoing the very actions that led to the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Hirono is Hawaii’s first female senator and the nation’s first Asian American female senator. Throughout her career in the U.S. Senate, she has fought on behalf of Hawaii families and communities whose voices are not often heard in Congress. Her various committee assignments include serving as the ranking member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and the Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution.
Twelve-year-old Sara Omura, a seventh-grader at Whitney High School in Cerritos, will read a poem she wrote entitled “Has Anything Really Changed?” This poem earned her a first-place award in the Manzanar Committee’s fourth annual Student Awards Program in 2019.
Sara’s father, Glenn Suravech, is an audio engineer who has worked with the likes of Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills & Nash, along with Asian American artists including Shin Kawasaki, Cynthia Lin, Abe Lagrimas, Jr. and TaikoProject. He is also a musician who was part of the alternative rock band Visiting Violette.
Born at the Manzanar concentration camp, George Abe, who grew up in the Seinan area of Los Angeles, is well-known in the Los Angeles Japanese American community for his artistry with the shakuhachi and for his work with Kinnara Taiko and Gagaku. Abe will open the DOR program and accompany the memorial tribute.
Organizers of the Los Angeles Day of Remembrance 2020 are: Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC), Japanese American Citizens League-Pacific Southwest District, JANM, Kizuna, Manzanar Committee, NCRR, Nikkei Progressives, Organization of Chinese Americans-Greater Los Angeles, and Progressive Asian Network for Action.
Kizuna’s Elaine Hang shared, “Kizuna is a proud member of the Day of Remembrance organizing committee. Through DOR, next-generation leaders gain an understanding of the community’s history and are informed about the issues facing the community today. We must never forget the dire consequences that racism, fear, and failure of political leadership had on our community so that this history is never repeated.”
DOR committee member Kay Ochi added, “As NCRR celebrates its 40th birthday in 2020, we confront the current political crisis and threats to our democratic ideals. We do, however, celebrate that nine justice-minded community groups have stepped up to organize the annual Day of Remembrance to acknowledge our legacy from the wartime incarceration, to focus on the dire threats to democracy, and to urge that, once again, we must take action! Please join us.”
The event is free and open to the public. Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP at http://www.janm.org/DOR. For more information, call (213) 625-0414.