SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California State Library has awarded $694,000 for 26 projects through the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, which aims “to remind Californians of the civil liberties violations suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II so that no one else goes through the same suffering.”
“Fear and bigotry were the root cause of internment in World War II. Both are still around,” said Greg Lucas, California’s state librarian, in a June 20 statement. “Better understanding of past mistakes and connecting them with current events helps make sure we remember we’re always stronger together.”
The current round of grants is the first of a series that was funded through a three-year, one-time allocation of $3 million in the budget approved in June 2017. Funding will continue through June 30, 2020, and the State Library expects to have two more opportunities for applicants with this funding, one in the winter of the 2018-2019 fiscal year and another in winter of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
History of the CCLPEP
Prior to World War II, California was home to more Japanese Americans than any other state. In the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawai‘i, wartime hysteria led to President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, which put some 120,000 Japanese Americans into concentration camps for more than 18 months.
When the state Legislature created the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program in 1998, it said the program’s purpose was “to sponsor public educational activities and development of educational materials to ensure that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered so that the causes and circumstance of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood.”
The program received funding as high as $1 million annually from 1998 through 2011. Funding was eliminated in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011. At the request of Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, Gov. Jerry Brown approved $1 million in onetime funding for the program in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With support from legislators like Assemblymembers Ting and Al Muratsuchi, the governor included $3 million in the 2017-2018 budget to continue funding through June 30, 2020.
Legislation in 2017 by Muratsuchi, AB 491, clarified administrative details, established an advisory board, and encouraged projects that provide information about civil rights violations or civil liberties injustices that are perpetrated on the basis of an individual’s race, national origin, immigration status, religion, gender, or sexual orientation as well as the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.
A full list of grant recipients and project descriptions follows.
CCLPEP FY 2017-18 Grantees
California Center for the Arts, Escondido — $12,000: The California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum will present two exhibits from January to early March of 2019 — “Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams’ Born Free and Equal,” and artist Wendy Maruyama’s “Executive Order 9066, The Tag Project.” Community engagement activities will include performances by theatrical artists and by violinist Kishi Bashi, who penned “Omoiyari,” a song story of his music created in locations where Japanese Americans were incarcerated. Youth from local schools will be invited to create their own stories to present. Lectures and family days will engage the public.
California Museum (fiscal sponsor) — $15,000: The “We the People” Committee in partnership with the California Museum has been working on a seven-part educational documentary video series on the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and its multicultural relevance for today. Funding is provided for the final two video segments, educational guides, and distribution materials.
Densho — $30,000: Densho will conduct, preserve, and Web-host 30 video life histories of Japanese Americans focusing on the immediate post-concentration camp experience in California, capturing both rural and urban experiences as well as life in hostels and trailer camps. The downloadable interviews will be available online as part of the Densho Digital Repository. In partnership with the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and the Japanese American National Museum, Densho will produce three public programs to highlight some of the interviews and commentary by scholars.
Eighteen Eighty Eight — $16,000: Eighteen Eighty Eight strives to be the catalyst for telling the stories of Orange County’s diverse communities. This program connects voices of the past and present through a special podcast series that records the conversations from educational discussions, informational workshops and the speakers’ personal anecdotes.
Fred T. Korematsu Institute — $40,000: The Fred T. Korematsu Institute will remaster and distribute the two-time Emmy-award-winning documentary “Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story” in commemoration of Korematsu’s 100th birthday. The film will reach the public through libraries, online screenings, and media outlets like PBS.
Fresno Arts Council — $20,000: The Yonsei Memory Project — a collaboration led by two Central Valley fourth-generation Japanese American artists — will plan, produce, and facilitate three public programs in 2018-2019. The programs are a storytelling fellowship and performance; memory bus tours of significant Japanese American memorials; and a reading discussion series hosted at local libraries and community spaces.
International Indian Treaty Council — $18,000: The International Indian Treaty Council will update the 1999 Gold Greed & Genocide video and materials showing the impacts of the Gold Rush on indigenous peoples. The video and collateral materials will be shared through radio, online and public events and to selected schools. The International Indian Treaty Council will collaborate with the National Japanese American Historical Society to present a panel discussing the similarities between these two historical periods.
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center — $12,000: The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center will produce the world premiere of “Tales of Clamor” created by PULLproject ensemble in partnership with Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress. This theatrical case-study examines the reverberations of Japanese American incarceration during WWII, and the need for dialogue and collective action to address racism and threats to safety today.
Japanese American Museum Of San Jose — $30,000: The Manabu Oral History Project will gather at-risk personal oral histories of the San Jose Japanese American pre-war, camp, and post-war experience through a collaborative, multi-organizational, community-wide effort. JAMsj will act as the community hub and central archive for the Bay Area community, spearheading the effort to capture these stories and preserve them.
Japanese American National Museum — $30,000: The Stanley Hayami Virtual and Augmented Reality Project will share a young Japanese American boy’s journey — from his home in the San Gabriel Valley, to life in a concentration camp and to his service in the military — through letters, journal entries, and personal artworks. This two-phase project will be distributed through a widely accessible smartphone application and an exhibition at the JANM.
KALW – San Francisco Unified School District — $75,000: KALW, an NPR affiliate owned by the San Francisco Unified School District, will produce a series of six to eight live, on-location broadcasts intended to expand public understanding of the history of Japanese American exclusion and detention, and connect that history to the concerns of other communities who have faced injustice and to the long-term struggle for civil liberties in the U.S. These programs will be produced as part of KALW’s daily public affairs program “Your Call” and made available for national distribution. These events will be videotaped.
Kelley House Museum Inc. — $8,000: Mendocino-born businessman Look Tin Eli led the reconstruction of San Francisco Chinatown after the 1906 Earthquake. His story reflects the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and his legal case was important to the eventual definition of citizenship. Projects and activities may include: video and print materials for classrooms and speaker programs that illustrate his importance to California history, and examine the law as a precedent for Executive Order 9066; a museum exhibit will document local exclusions and the detention of Japanese Americans, and public forums in Northern California that open this history to examination and discussion.
L.A. Theatre Works — $60,000: L.A. Theatre Works seeks to use its audio theater platform to produce and disseminate two plays about the Japanese incarceration: “Hold These Truths” by Jeanne Sakata and “The Sisters Matsumoto” by Philip Gotanda. The plays will be professionally recorded and broadcast on L.A. Theatre Works’ national radio show, and digitally preserved for streaming and download through the organization’s Website.
Little Tokyo Historical Society — $10,000: The Little Tokyo Historical Society will produce a graphic novel that traces the years leading up through WWII and the relationship between African American attorney Hugh Macbeth and civil rights leader Sei Fujii. In 1938, Fujii and Macbeth joined forces as members of the California Race Relations Committee to protect the representation and treatment of minorities across the U.S.
Los Angeles Opera Company — $20,000: Students across Los Angeles will learn and, in turn, educate over 5,800 community members about the Japanese American incarceration experience through opera. Through specially designed year-long residency programs, teens and elementary students will be immersed in operas and music that demonstrate the violations of civil liberties during WWII, with further examination of civil liberties issues throughout history and in present day. At the culmination of each residency, the students will perform the operas and music in 14 performances to take place in schools and public venues.
National Japanese American Historical Society — $30,000: The producers of the award-winning documentary, “The Ito Sisters: An American Story,” will use funds for distribution, outreach and engagement activities. “The Ito Sisters” captures the rarely told stories of the earliest Japanese immigrants to the U.S. and their American-born children. The funding supports a series of community screenings and panels, as well as media distribution.
Nichi Bei Foundation — $5,000: Preserving Little-Known Stories of Nikkei Incarceration is a collaborative effort to preserve untold stories of the Japanese American incarceration experience through the presentation of films, performance arts and literature. This project will manifest itself through the expansion of the “Films of Remembrance” series and an author series featuring little-known stories held collaboratively at three Bay Area locations.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley — $8,000: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley seeks support for its July 2018 production of “Hold These Truths” by Jeanne Sakata, which chronicles the heroic story of Gordon Hirabayashi, who resisted incarceration and was tried and convicted of curfew violation during WWII. This play, recently produced in New York, stars Joel de la Fuente.
Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), “442” — $18,000: The team behind the creation of the digital graphic novel 442 will print physical copies of the work. The storyline of both the online and print version is of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up entirely of Japanese Americans and the most decorated unit of WWII. Copies of the graphic novel will be made available to schools, libraries, teachers and students throughout California. In addition, the authors and artist will lead public talks about the 442 and the incarceration experience.
Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), “Building History 3.0” — $90,000: “Building History 3.0” is a Website and curriculum project that uses the 3D construction and exploration video game Minecraft to engage young people with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. The students will construct virtual incarceration camps on Minecraft, and present their projects at a public event, in an essay, a vlog, or a short animation video.
Visual Communications (fiscal sponsor), “Manzanar, Diverted” — $25,000: “Manzanar, Diverted,” and its impact-focused interactive Website, expands the story of the wartime concentration camp to reveal how water is at the heart of the experiences of Japanese Americans, Native Americans, and other farmers and ranchers who contested the more powerful U.S. Army and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for control of this land. The film examines intersecting legacies of various groups and how government entities have prioritized the cultivation of water resources in the Owens Valley for the demands of urban growth in Los Angeles over other areas and communities.
Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), “Moving Walls” — $12,000: The “Barracks Project” consists of at least four public programs that include a screening of “Moving Walls,” a film that deals with the barracks found at Japanese American detention centers during WWII, their impact on those forced to live in them, and their importance to the farming population that now uses them. There will also be a pair of panel discussions.
Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor) “One Square Mile, 10,000 Voices” — $30,000: The interactive documentary project “One Square Mile, 10,000 Voices” consists of a sound installation at Manzanar National Historic Site, a Little Tokyo satellite installation, and an interactive Website. Audio recordings from Manzanar’s past and present will be geo-located across the national monument. Using a mobile app and headphones, visitors walking around the site will be able to explore its oral history, and record their own reflections to add to the project. This participatory storytelling approach will encourage visitors to engage with the physical site and its historical archive in new ways.
Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), “Please Take Off Your Shoes” — $5,000: “Please Take Off Your Shoes” is a feature-length hybrid documentary that asks the question: “What if what happened to Japanese Americans in the 1940s happened today with Muslim Americans?” Koji Sakai, whose family was imprisoned during WWII, and Mustafa Zeno, a Muslim American from Syria, crafted a story imagining what that moment would look like — and then enlisted Mustafa’s family to play out the scenario. The footage from this re-enactment is the basis for interviews with Japanese and Muslim Americans who have experienced similar situations.
Write Out Loud — $25,000: Write Out Loud, in collaboration with the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, will create two Japanese storytelling theatrical pieces called “Kamishibai.” These stories will be based on personal experiences of incarceration, and the results will be presented in local libraries, museums and classrooms throughout San Diego County. Workshops for creating two additional Kamishibai stories about civil liberty violations will be provided for young people from the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and immigrant communities, which will also be presented throughout San Diego County. Classroom study guides for incarceration stories, relevant handouts for all community performance audiences, videos of stories, and social media outreach is included in this project.
Lost LA — $50,000: KCET’s original content program “Lost LA” tells the often-forgotten stories of Los Angeles and Southern California. In partnership with the USC Libraries/LA as Subject Archives, KCET will create episodes in Lost LA that will explore historical civil rights challenges faced by multiple ethnic groups throughout the region and how Southern Californians and Angelenos have worked to move forward.