“Conscience” inspires Panama Hotel jazz project

doors to historic Panama HotelSeattle jazz artist Stephen Griggs is staging a series of music and spoken word concerts at the Panama Hotel Tea Room, based on the history of Japanese Americans in Seattle.  The project is inspired by the music of Oscar Holden and the novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. But he was also reading John Okada’s No-No Boy and says “the powerful feelings and stories told by Okada will influence my project.” Also this:

I want you to know that your film Conscience and the Constitution served as an inspiration for my Panama Hotel Jazz project.

So many camp stories sound conciliatory and driven by fate. This film told stories of resistance and agency. I am not of Japanese ancestry and the film’s perspectives felt less alien to me. That opened a door for me to develop my project from a stance of civil injustice which is common ground for all Americans.

Two more free concerts in the series remain, at 2pm Saturday September  14 and 21. The Panama is located at 607 South Main Street in the International District. The project is funded by the 4Culture Historic Site Specific program.

Also inspired was Rob Hellebrand, who sent a nice note along with a paper he wrote entitled, “Nisei Divided: An Account of the Fair Play Committee at the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Internment Camp.”

I have really enjoyed looking through the resources at your website. I happened to first come upon it in 1999 when I was writing a paper for a class. I knew relatively little about the internment camps and wanted to know more, and just kind of fell into the story that you told there. This was when the DVD was still in production, so I only had the documents that you uploaded to go by.

About five years later, I attended a symposium about the resisters at the University of Oregon. I remember I was at the food table and I looked up and recognized Frank Emi from sixty-year-old pictures. He seemed surprised that I would know who he was.

Thanks for getting in touch Rob.

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