When the constitutional rights of one group of citizens are violated, all Americans are affected.”  Marielle Tsukamoto

leaving for camp

This year marks the 70th anniversary of a historic event that overnight changed the history of Elk Grove and its surrounding communities: the signing of Executive Order 9066 . With the stroke of a pen, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the forced removal and unjust incarceration of over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast during World War II.

Seventy years later, the “relocation” of persons of Japanese ancestry is still not widely understood or recognized by the American public as a one of the worst constitutional violations in this nation’s history. Elk Grove, as a district and as a community, has taken an active role in ensuring that this chapter in our nation’s history when justice failed an entire group of people is documented and preserved.

Beginning in 2005,  Technology Services and Curriculum and Professional Learning, in partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Commission (SECC),  have teamed to make the first-hand accounts of racism, discrimination, and forced removal available  to teachers and students 24/7.  Our Time of Remembrance website continues to grow, with new interviews and teacher-created lessons being added each school year.

In commemoration of the profound impact of Executive Order 9066 on our community, our latest venture includes the making of a documentary: I’m American Too – Stories from Behind the Fences:

It is our hope that I’m American Too  will not only shed light on a darker chapter in our history, but, more importantly, will serve as a call to action to ensure that prejudice and fear are not allowed to upset the delicate balance between the rights of citizens and the power of the state.

We hope the documentary will also ignite conversations in classrooms, neighborhoods, and communities on how events from the past connect to the present and on the need to understand and embrace both the rights and responsibilities that are the foundation of U.S. citizenship.

We also wish to acknowledge our heartfelt appreciation for the Time of Remembrance interviewees. Their first-hand accounts of relocation, resistance, and resilience stand as testimony to the power of the human spirit – and as a reminder of how quickly “the thin veneer of tolerance can be ripped off.”