Manzanar National Historic Site is honored to host author/entertainer Kinji Inomata for its 2020 Day of Remembrance program at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22.
Organizations and communities across the country host Day of Remembrance events to mark the anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942. While never specifically mentioning Japanese Americans, the executive order allowed the U.S. Army to forcibly round up and incarcerate more than 110,000 Japanese Americans — two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens — in Manzanar and nine similar camps around the U.S.
Inomata’s family experience was the exception. His talk, “Taming Prejudice and Defeating Executive Order 9066,” will highlight the story of his grandfather Kenji Inomata, the only known Issei to remain officially free on the West Coast during World War II.
The elder Inomata illegally entered the U.S. through New York Harbor in the late 1800s. He went on to serve as a steward in the U.S. Navy for nearly 30 years. Despite federal laws forbidding Asian immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens, he naturalized in 1919.
In 1935, Inomata, his Creole wife Genevieve, and their children moved from Florida to Los Angeles to escape the prejudice of the South, only to face different prejudices in the West.
Kinji Inomata has captured his family’s experiences in his book “Pure Winds, Bright Moon: The Untold Story of the Stately Steward and his Hapa Family Beautiful.” The book highlights 125 years of twists and turns in the lives of the Inomata family. The Smithsonian recently accessioned his book into its National Museum of American History.
Inomata is also a Polynesian entertainer and will perform a few songs. The program is free and open to all. Manzanar’s nonprofit partner, Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, will host a book signing with Inomata after his talk. Proceeds will benefit programs and projects at Manzanar National Historic Site.
The site is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence and nine miles north of Lone Pine. Learn more on the website at https://www.nps.gov/manz or on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.