“JOHN OKADA” and graphic novel presentations at Tule Lake and Minidoka

graphic novel presentation at Tule Lake PilgrimageTule Lake and Minidoka were two very different experiences for inmates, as I discovered after spending a week on the road at each of their camp pilgrimages.  But one thing stayed the same, and that was the warm reception given to our dual presentations on both JOHN OKADA and our graphic novel on camp resistance with the working title, We Hereby Refuse.

Art Hansen, Frank Abe, Takako Day, and Martha Nakagawa at Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Under other circumstances it would have made more sense to stick to launching the JOHN OKADA book alone, and spend more time exploring the new biography, unknown works, and critical essays.

Frank Abe at Tule Lake PilgrimageBut having critical masses of pilgrims gathered around the memory of their shared experience at these two camps was the perfect opportunity to test the direction of our material on the draft resistance at Minidoka and the registration, “riot,” and renunciation crises at Tule Lake. At Tule Lake, thanks to Martha NakagawaTakako Day, and Art Hansen for bringing their voices to the proceedings. And thanks to Janis Hirohama for the photo coverage of our Tule Lake workshop.

Frank Abe at Minidoka Pilgrimageworkshop at Minidoka Pilgrimage

Thanks too to all those who filled the room for my workshop at the Minidoka Pilgrimage. There I could really focus on the story of Jim Akutsu, his draft resistance at Minidoka, and how that story informs both John Okada’s No-No Boy and our forthcoming graphic novel. It was good to hear from people who knew Jim as their basketball coach back in Seattle. Thanks to Cory Shiozaki for the workshop photos.

#FamiliesBelongTogether at Minidoka Pilgrimage - photo: Kayla Isomura

Capping off the Minidoka Pilgrimage was an impromptu protest against family separations at the southern border carried out by the federal government. At the request of the Yonsei organizers, I lent my voice to connect Jim Akutu’s two-year struggle at Minidoka to reunite with his own father, and the trauma being suffered now by children separated from parents seeking legal asylum.

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