Events Oral Histories

70 Years After Manzanar


NBC News’ feature story 70 Years After Manzanar, the Stories of Incarceration Live On serves as a timely reminder of  how quickly “the thin veneer of tolerance can be ripped off” (Stan Umeda, TOR interviewee). Through the voices and memories of former Manzanar incarcerees Hank Umemoto, Joyce Okazaki, and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (author of A Farewell to Manzanar), combined with World War II news clips and photos from Ansel Adams, readers are provided with a window into the long-lasting impact exclusion and forced removal from one’s home and community can have on a child. Seventy years later, all three vividly and painfully recall their internment years.

In addition to providing primary source accounts from WWII, we hope this article will also encourage teachers to promote StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen oral histories project. The StoryCorps project is a wonderful opportunity for students to serve as historians of their own family histories.

In 2010, Gail had the privilege of joining the Florin Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar as part of a grant that included teachers from the Elk Grove Unified School District. It was a life-changing experience. In response to the pilgrimage and to commemorate the impact of the internment years on the Elk Grove community, we created the I’m American Too documentary  The documentary is at the heart of our Time of Remembrance website  – and stands as a tribute to the National Parks’ commitment to preserving the history and stories of Manzanar.

Gail and Kathleen

tor talks

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