Category Archives: Redress

Events coming up for the first half of 2019

Thanks to all who came to hear us speak in 2018. The schedule for the first half of 2019 is shaping up as an even busier one, with events for JOHN OKADA, CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, and a look back at the first Day of Remembrance.  For updates on this calendar, please always check the Upcoming Events page on the main menu.

San Francisco Public Library logoSAN FRANCISCO, CA
Tues., Jan. 8, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street, Latino/Hispanic Rooms A & B 

JOHN OKADA book talk and signing with co-editor Frank Abe. RSVP via the Facebook Event.

Palo Alto City Library logo PALO ALTO, CA
Thurs., Jan. 10, 2019 @ 7:00 pm Palo Alto Rinconada Library
1213 Newell Road
Embarcadero Room

JOHN OKADA book talk and signing with co-editor Frank Abe. RSVP via the Facebook Event and download the flyer.

USC logoLOS ANGELES, CA
Friday, Feb. 1, 2019
University of Southern California
Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture
Doheny Memorial Library, East Asian Seminar Room

JOHN OKADA co-editors Frank Abe and Greg Robinson will present on the life of the author and the process of unearthing his lost stories. Free admission.  RSVP on their Event page.

museum logoLOS ANGELES, CA
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 @ 2:00 pm
Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave.

Southern California book launch for JOHN OKADA with co-editors Frank Abe, Greg Robinson, and special guests, at an event moderated by Densho’s Brian Niiya. Admission free but RSVP at their Event page.

UCLA Asian American Studies CenterLOS ANGELES, CA
Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 @ 12:30 – 1:45 pm
University of California, Los Angeles
Kaplan Hall, Room A68 

Frank Abe will speak with students of Prof. Kelly Fong’s AAS 103 Social Science Research Methods class on the research behind the book, JOHN OKADA, and his film, CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION.

JAJA group photo

NEW YORK, NY
Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 @ 7:00 pm
JAJA – Japanese Americans and Japanese in America
12 W. 18th St, Apt #3E

JOHN OKADA co-editor Frank Abe with speak with the informal potluck gathering of people of Japanese ancestry living in NY.

UConn logoSTORRS, CT
Thursday, February 21, 2019
University of Connecticut Asian and Asian American Studies Institute

2019 “Day of Remembrance” panel with JOHN OKADA co-editors Frank Abe, Greg Robinson, and Floyd Cheung. Details to come.

New York Day of RemembranceNEW YORK, NY
Saturday, February 23, 2019 @ 1:00 pm
Japanese American United Church
255 7th Avenue

“Day of Remembrance” co-founder Frank Abe will speak at the 2019 New York Day of Remembrance.

Hope College logoHOLLAND, MI
Thursday, March 7, 2019 @ 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Hope College
Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center, Schaap Auditorium

Frank Abe will present the college’s annual Asian Heritage Lecture, a campuswide event for students and faculty and open to the public.

Elliott Bay Book Company logoSEATTLE, WA
Tuesday, April 2, 2019 @ 7:00 pm
Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 Tenth Avenue

Frank Abe will join Art Hansen in presenting Nisei Naysayer: The Memoir of Militant Japanese American Journalist Jimmie Omura, in the area of Omura’s birth on Bainbridge Island. Hansen edited Omura’s wartime diary. Abe documented Omura in the film, Conscience and the Constitution, and provided the afterword to this new volume.

Association for Asian American Studies logoMADISON, WI
Thurs-Fri, April 25-26, 2019
Association for Asian American Studies annual conference

1) Frank Abe will speak on a panel chaired by Greg Robinson on “‘Rabbit in the Moon’ and ‘Conscience and the Constitution’: Looking Backward and Forward”, Thursday, April 25, 1:00 – 2:30 pm.

2) JOHN OKADA co-editors Frank Abe, Greg Robinson, and Floyd Cheung will reunite for a book signing sponsored by the University of Washington Press, Thursday, 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

3) OKADA co-editor Floyd Cheung will chair a panel on “John Okada’s Unknown Works: Reassessing the (Un)governability of Japanese Americans in Mid-century America.,  Friday, April 26, 1:00 – 2:30 pm.

UW Libraries logoSEATTLE, WA
Thursday, May 2, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
University of Washington Libraries “Libraries Unbound” fundraising dinner
Husky Union Building Ballrooms

JOHN OKADA co-editor Frank Abe will serve as a “table author” for the Friends of the University of Washington Libraries 14th annual fundraising dinner, “Libraries Unbound.” John’s sister Connie was the longtime art librarian for the UW Libraries, and our book is indebted to the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries for the microfilms and bound volumes where we rediscovered all of Okada’s unknown works.

POWELL, WY
Thurs-Sat., July 25-27, 2019
2019 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage

There is a proposal in the works for a panel on the resistance of the Fair Play Committee to be held at this year’s pilgrimage. More to come.

And that’s just the first half of the year. Thanks for following this blog and hope to see you out on the road.

The first Day of Remembrance, Thanksgiving Weekend 1978

Forty years ago on Thanksgiving weekend, we gathered at Sick’s Stadium in Seattle’s Rainier Valley to kick-start the popular campaign for Japanese American redress.

Here’s the inside story of how it all came together, and where it led. Thanks to Natasha Varner for commissioning this piece for the Densho Blog.

The First Day of Remembrance, Thanksgiving Weekend 1978

Retracing the steps of the Minidoka draft resisters

While in Idaho for a symposium, I took the opportunity to research settings for the forthcoming graphic novel on camp resistance, in particular the places where the draft resisters from Minidoka were jailed and put on trial in September, 1944.

Ada County Courthouse, Boise

With the Friends of Minidoka — Hanako Wakatsuki, Mia Russell, and Kurt Yokoyama Ikeda — we started at the Ada County Courthouse, where Jim and Gene Ada County Courthouse interiorAkutsu and the other draft resisters were brought from camp and held in the old jail on the top floors. We could still see the iron grates over the windows, from where they could look out. The top floors are now sealed off from the public. Continue reading Retracing the steps of the Minidoka draft resisters

“Resistance, Resettlement, and Redress”

Frank Abe at podiumI’m no lawyer, but I could not say no when the Case Western Reserve Law Review asked for a piece based on our EO9066 panel last November.

The symposium offered me the opportunity to revisit the McDonald Maternity Hospital in Cleveland where I was born, just a block from the Western Reserve campus, and explore my own pre-history of the postwar resettlement of my father out of Heart Mountain and into the Midwest. Continue reading “Resistance, Resettlement, and Redress”

Events for the 2018 Day of Remembrance

TV viewers in the Pacific Northwest tuning in to the Winter Olympics  this week have been getting an unexpected, 30-second education in America’s wartime incarceration camps, thanks to a personal testimonial I gave for the importance of the work of KING-TV’s  Lori Matsukawa.

Continue reading Events for the 2018 Day of Remembrance

Film mentioned as an #inspirASIAN

graphic image of Frank AbeHumbled and a little embarrassed by this online recognition from the Asian American Journalists Association and friend Lori Matsukawa — but worthwhile if it encourages AAJA members to embrace their role in the newsroom and pitch stories that shine a light on our diverse communities — just as Lori has done so effectively in her position on air. Also worth it if it helps call attention to the film and the story of the Heart Mountain resisters and all the resisters in camp and the courts.
Continue reading Film mentioned as an #inspirASIAN

What resistance means now: “Has the Gestapo come to America?”

The Heart Mountain resisters refused induction in 1944 as a last-ditch attempt to clarify their status as American citizens and challenge the constitutionality of the American concentration camps in which they were held. With the actions being threatened by a new Administration, a new kind of resistance is now being called for in the 21st century.

It’s only been one week since the election, and an adviser to the President-elect is testing the public’s willingness to go along with creation of a national registry of all Muslims in America — a database whose only useful purpose would be to make it possible to round them all up for some kind of mass action.

Journalist James Omura saw the dangers of mass registration in February 1942, in his testimony to the Congressional Tolan Committee, which was preparing the public for acceptance of the mass exclusion of a feared racial minority perceived as the enemy. “Has the Gestapo come to America?,” he asked.


Continue reading What resistance means now: “Has the Gestapo come to America?”

REVIEW: Frank Chin’s Great Chinese American Novel

Confessions coverThis 1970s-era novel by Frank Chin, published for the first time today by the University of Hawaii Press, predates his work with the Heart Mountain resisters who are the subject of this blog. But as a Friend of the Fair Play Committee, the surprise recovery and restoration of Frank’s unpublished first novel is a story as notable as his recovery of the buried history of the resisters.

For the occasion, I wrote a review of the book for International Examiner arts editor Alan Lau:

A first look at Frank Chin’s Great Chinese American Novel

The Confessions of a Number One Son by Frank Chin
edited with an introduction by Calvin McMillin

reviewed by Frank Abe
special to the International Examiner, April 1-April 14, 2015

newspaper coverThe emergence 40 years later of a tightly edited, slimmed-down version of a long-lost novel from the writer who first defined Asian American literature is an unexpected gift.

That’s because to read The Confessions of a Number One Son in 2015 is to peel back the decades and discover the creative foundation of the plays and later fiction of Frank Chin, in the moment before he became consumed with the polemics of separating the real from the fakery in the work of others.

In an early 1970s America where the postwar generation was just coming of age—where the world still celebrated the model minority, the Chinese Christian autobiographies of Betty Lee Sung and Pardee Lowe, and the movie stereotype of Charlie Chan—Frank Chin was putting a self-proclaimed Chinaman voice at the center of his stories. It was an act of self-invention he was perfecting in tandem with his better-known stage plays, The Chickencoop Chinaman and Year of the Dragon.  Read more …

Chin review

Legacy of Fair Play Committee lives on at two Bay Area Day of Remembrance events

Two separate Day of Remembrance events in San Francisco next weekend feature the memory and the legacy of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee.

All forms of camp resistance, including that of the draft resistance at Heart Mountain, will be recognized at the 2015 Bay Area Day of Remembrance, Sunday, February 22, at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. The theme of the event sponsored by the National Japanese American Historical Society is “Out of the Shadows of Infamy: Resistance Behind Barbed Wire.” Their promotional film produced by Cary Matsumura presents voices from the community, including archived outtakes from CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION that feature Fair Play Committee leader Frank Emi and Professor Roger Daniels:

It’s a pleasure to see that Cary included video of Seattle Issei redress visionary Shosuke Sasaki that we shot for Densho. UPDATE: Here’s a link to Sunday’s DOR 2015 Program. Thanks for mentioning Resisters.com as a source for some clips and including two versions of the courtroom photo in the printed program.

Bay Area DOR

The day before, on Saturday, February 21, the notable Films of Remembrance series will include “The Legacy of Heart Mountain,” which also features a sequence on the Fair Play Committee.  This series too has a trailer. Catch a glimpse of the Wyoming courtroom photo at the 1:17 mark:

Films of Remembrance screens at the New People Cinema in San Francisco Japantown. It’s curated by Kenji Taguma and sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation.

Films of Remembrance 2015

In Memoriam: Henry Miyatake, visionary for redress

photo: Densho EncyclopediaHenry Miyatake did not appear in our film, but we could not have told the story of the Heart Mountain resisters without first establishing a common foundation of understanding about the underlying facts of the incarceration. And we could never have those facts acknowledged without Henry’s vision of winning an apology and compensation for constitutional violations from the U.S. government.

It’s no exaggeration to call Henry the father of Japanese American redress. In the 70s he railed against Mike Masaoka’s “Japanese American Creed” when its words were used against him by a Boeing Company manager to levy a 25 percent pay cut. He researched and wrote the “American Promise,” apologizing for and rescinding FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which was signed by President Ford in 1976. Henry oversaw production of the very first Day of Remembrance in the nation. And he conceived the innovative “Seattle Plan” for redress and reparations, the essence of which was signed a decade later by President Reagan.

Henry passed away quietly in Federal Way, WA, on September 16. But the Seattle community would not let him go without some closure, as Bob Shimabukuro expressed so well in the International Examiner, “Remembering Henry Miyatake: A man with the plan.” So we held a community memorial service for Henry on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Hall in Seattle. I said a few words, which were preceded by clips from Henry’s video interview for the Densho Project, which you can watch with a free registration.

“Day of Remembrance and Henry’s Impact on Redress”
Saturday, December 6, 2014

photo: Eileen Yamada-LamphereWe just saw the great value of The Densho Project. Thanks to Densho we will always have Henry’s image and words to remember him by. And seeing him again, I am reminded how that man could talk. Once you got him started, look out. Like Tom said, he had to interview Henry six different times to get his whole life story.

That was part of Henry’s charm. He could talk, and this was a time when we needed people who could talk. But he was also about action.

You have to remember that in the late 70s, the very subject of the camps was open to argument in the newspaper and radio. For every one of us who just mentioned incarceration, there was a war veteran quick to remind people that we attacked Pearl Harbor, or we were put in camp for our protection.

But Henry had a vision. He created a set of flip charts, as you saw in that photo. If we’d had PowerPoint back then, Henry would have made a PowerPoint presentation. But this was the 70s, all he had was paper, and he was a brilliant engineer, so he created flip charts. And he shopped his flip charts all over town. He’d talk to any group that would listen.

I was a young kid fresh from California, and Henry was unlike any Nisei I had ever met. He was unafraid. He thought nothing of going to a Congressman like Brock Adams to get his support, or of working his connections with Governor Dan Evans, or with State Supreme Court Justice Charles Z. Smith, who we are honored to have with us today.

I met Henry through Frank Chin. Frank was writing a piece for the Seattle Weekly about Henry’s flipchart plan. Frank thought the move for redress was bold, and he wanted to help publicize it.

Now Frank was big on ideas. He said let’s call it a Day of Remembrance. His first idea was for us to recreate the eviction and form a car caravan down to the Puyallup Fairgrounds, to go down on Thanksgiving Day, and once we got there, we’d get out and all chain ourselves to the fence. He thought that would be great television.

Henry screamed that Frank was nuts. No one’s gonna go out on Thanksgiving. It had to be a family event, he said, and people want to be with their families on Thanksgiving. So between the two of them we arrived at the program you see on the poster, framed as a formal invitation for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  And not a protest, but a family potluck.

We nailed those posters to telephone poles, just like in 1942.  Just using the words “Remember the camps / Stand for redress with your family” was touchy with a lot of people. We took the poster to Imperial Lanes, and the manager refused to let us put it up. “I have a lot of white customers here. I don’t want any trouble.”

The signs invited people to assemble in a vacant lot next to the old Seattle Pilots baseball park, where Lowe’s is now. And on the morning of Nov. 25, we were stunned when we arrived at Sick’s Stadium and found a thousand people waiting in line with cars. People were ready for this to happen.

Ben Nakagawa arranged for the use of some National Guard trucks and buses. The driver didn’t know how to get to the Puyallup Fairground, so Henry had to sit in the first vehicle as a guide. And Diana, you may not remember this but you wanted to ride up front with him. But Henry saw another friend of mine from San Francisco,. Benjamin Tong, sitting in the cargo bed of a big 6-wheel-drive Army truck. And Henry says, “How come you’re riding in this truck?” And Ben says, “I want to know how it felt to be taken to camp in a truck, I want to go through the same experience that you guys did.”

So Henry says, “Well, Diana, you ride with Dr. Tong so you can experience what we went through.” And that’s what Diana did, riding in the back of Army truck in the cold November wind, at the head of a 2-and-a-half mile-long car caravan snaking down southbound I-5. And like he said in the video, inside the cars, parents opened up to their kids for the first time. Yasuko Takezawa calls it, “the event that burst open the tomb of Japanese American history.

And every newspaper and TV station was there to see the largest gathering of Japanese Americans in one place in Seattle since, well, since World War 2. We showed we could get the media on our side. And what people had feared most, never happened. There was no white backlash. No angry mob. No “rekindling of old resentments and racism.”

Day of Remembrance made it safe for people across the country to step out of the shadow. We sparked the popular movement for redress and reparations that led ten years later to President Reagan signing the Civil Liberties Act for an apology and individual compensation. Today Days of Remembrance are an invented tradition, observed wherever Japanese Americans live.

But taking credit, being in the limelight, was never for Henry.

For one of our newsletters Karen Seriguchi interviewed Henry and asked him, “Do you see yourself as a leader?” “No, I do not,” said Henry. “I ‘m one of the ditch-diggers. Hopefully, all the others will be digging the same way.”

Henry was not there when President Ford signed his American Promise. He was not in the photo when President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act. But neither of those turning points that fundamentally changed our history would have been imaginable without the dogged persistence, the selfless commitment, and the unassuming courage of Henry Miyatake.

And that’s why we’re all here today, to remember Henry and to let his family know that as long as our voices are heard, we will never let Henry’s life and achievements be forgotten. Henry taught us to look our history in the eye, with the passion of a professor and the inescapable logic of an engineer.

Henry was a great ditch-digger. He was the conscience of our community. He was my hero, my mentor, and my friend, and I, like you, will deeply miss him.

Update: December 23, 2014
See more stories about Henry in this new obit that was requested by the Nichi Bei Weekly out of San Francisco,