The Heart Mountain resisters, under the heading of “Internment Dissenters,” will be among 16 individuals and groups honored in San Francisco this Sunday at the third annual Fred Korematsu Day celebration. Thanks to the organizers for linking to this site for information about the resisters and, for the short film to be screened at the event, thanks for using two of the stills from our film: the shot of Frank Emi in camp with grocer Kozie Sakai, and the iconic courtroom photo of the 63 resisters on trial in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
In what is billed as “a historic gathering of civil rights heroes and the descendants of heroes who have passed on,” the Nisei draft resisters are sixth on a list of 16 American civil rights heroes who organizers say have been long overlooked:
#6. INTERNMENT DISSENTERS: “No-Nos,”draft resisters and renunciants who challenged the WWII incarceration and mistreatment of Japanese Americans. ‘No-No’ Hiroshi Kashiwagi will represent this honoree group at the event.
The video to be shown is described as a 2-minute short produced by filmmaker Winnie Wong, who interviewed Hiroshi for it She hopes to be able to share a Vimeo link at some point. The Institute’s Education Coordinator, Tim Huey, writes:
We are offering 2 free VIP tickets to each living member of our honoree groups. So, for those that are a Filipino WWII veteran, Japanese American WWII veteran, Internment Dissenter (draft resister, No-No, renunciant), or Dollar Store Striker that wish to attend, have them call us at 415-848-7737 to request complimentary tickets or email email@example.com. At this point resister Jimi Yamaichi plans on coming, as well as No-No Jim Tanimoto. We’d love to have more dissenters attend if they are able.
The 16 Heroes are all featured on an educational poster that is going into our teaching kits that are sent for free to educators across the country. We’ll be unveiling the poster at the event. More information on the teaching kits can be found on our website. Most of the materials can be downloaded for instant gratification, but for those desiring a physical kit, they simply have to fill out a basic online form to request them.
Tickets for the event are available for purchase. And again, Japanese American draft resisters, renunciants, and no-no boys are among those who can get free VIP tickets.
Who knew that a story outside the accepted narrative of the Japanese American community would still have the power to be considered controversial? Thanks to the 125 who turned out on May 12 for the DVD launch event and the lively Q and A at the Japanese American National Museum. See the photo gallery here.
And thanks to JANM, program director Koji Stephen Sakai, and new president and CEO Dr. Greg Kimura for daring to have us there in the first place. As Dr. Kimura said in introducing us, he’d received a couple of phone calls questioning the museum’s hosting of this film documenting draft resistance insideAmerica’s WW2 concentration camps. Dr. Kimura said the film and this subject remain controversial topics in the Japanese American community even today, but he said he believes the mission of the museum is precisely to offer those alternate narratives that are outside the accepted narratives of the community. As a new hire, that was a gutsy thing to say, and I hope the people of LA rally behind his leadership. It was fitting that you could see the name of the venue – Tateuchi Democracy Forum – writ large behind him as he spoke and throughout the screening.
After the screening I made the mistake of waving a red flag in front of my good friend Martha by holding up a copy of John Okada’s No-No Boy, as recommended reading. To be heard from the upper rows, Martha had to shout, and she sure let us know how the author is really a veteran trying to write about a resister, how the title misleads the reader as the main character is not a “no-no boy,” and how the resisters really hate the book. But Yosh Kuromiya was able to say that while he hated the book for years, after several more readings he now understands that Okada was not trying to portray the resisters as confused, and that the book truly is, as he put it, “a work of art.” And Martha joined a group of us for breakfast at Dick Obayashi’s Gardena Bowl two days later.
It was a pleasure to reunite with several key players in our film: Yosh and Irene Kuromiya, Tak Hoshizaki, Prof. Art Hansen, and our fabulous world-class film editor, Lillian Benson, A.C.E. Also thanks to Momo Yashima and Ralph Brannan, Soji Kashiwagi, Marie and Earnie Masumoto, Gerald Kado, Ben Toshiyuki, Harry Honda, and cousin Jeff Shinozaki for joining us in the audience. Thanks also to J.K. Yamamoto of the Rafu Shimpo for catching us in the lobby and posting this online photo with Art and Lillian.
Please join us for the Southern California debut of the new Two-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD of Conscience and the Constitution. Producer Frank Abe will screen the film and debut a new DVD featurette, “The JACL Apologizes.” Q&A with the filmmaker and DVD signing will follow the screening in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum. Admission is free to the museum and the screening, thanks to the “Target Free Family Day” in celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month.
Bainbridge Island audiences get it. They’ve embraced the exclusion very easily simply as part of their history, much like the residents I met in Eden, Idaho. Thanks to the 100 Islanders who came out Friday night for the DVD screening and discussion at Sakai Intermediate School. And thanks to Kay Sakai for sharing her memory not only of James Omura living on Bainbridge, but of working in the hospital on the night of the Manzanar Riot! See the photo gallery on our Facebook movie page, photos courtesy of Vivian Esteban Hwang, and a video glimpse of the audience watching the screening, courtesy of Vern Nakata.
Thanks to the more than 75 who came out today for the Seattle DVD release at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Some were waiting in line for the museum to open at 10am to get a ticket for the 1pm screening, then quickly filled the Tateuchi Story Theater. This was one of our most rapt audiences, who laughed in all the right places; even the babe in arms enjoyed the film quietly.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions and it was a pleasure to meet so many of you afterwards, including Miyoko who told me the story of why Jim Akutsu switched churches after the death of his mother. For Mike Tagawa, who told me of his days as an original Black Panther, here’s the ITVS documentary with lost footage of the Panthers that just aired last week on PBS. I’m sorry I lost track of the woman who wanted the Japanese lyrics to the Song of Cheyenne, I wanted to direct her to this image of the actual scrap of paper that we found in James Kado’s wallet. It is this song to which Mako fit the melody of the Japanese Hawaiian work song, “Hore Hore Bushi,” and which we were delighted to be able to include on our new Two-Disc DVD.
I also want to thank the staff for their terrific arrangements for todays’s DVD release: community programs manager Vivian Chan, education director Charlene Mano-Shen (who said the audience was “blown away” by the experience, and who is pictured above welcoming them) and Hanh Pham and Trayvian in The Marketplace. Speaking of which, only at The Marketplace can you now obtain the hard-to-find 18×24 inch film festival poster for CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, for the nominal price of $5, half of which goes to support the museum.
Thanks to Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times for highlighting in her column in the “Movietimes” section our first public screening of the new Two-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD of “Conscience and the Constitution.” And thanks to those who have RSVP’d on Facebook. No reservation or ticket needed. Just come by the Wing Luke Asian Museum in the Tateuchi Story Theater, 719 South King Street, Seattle, on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 1:00 p.m. Producer Frank Abe will screen the film and debut a new DVD featurette, “The JACL Apologizes,” on events that occurred after the film’s release, answer questions, and sign DVD’s.
Also in Seattle, see the new review in the International Examiner. Having read the paper for decades, it’s an honor to be included in the IE Arts section edited by poet and greengrocer Alan Lau. This review from Chizu Omori is among the most detailed yet. Looks great online but the article is truly impressive in print, pick up the paper if you can.
Our film screens next Tuesday, August 24, at the Fresno County Public Library, Central Library, McCardle Room. It’s the second day of their series, “The Japanese-American Experience in Film.” See their flyer.
The film will screen from the latest check disc of the forthcoming DVD, which is still on its way. All that remains is the authoring on the second disc and the remaining artwork.
Our film will screen January 14 as part of the “Thursday Night at the Movies” series staged by the National Japanese American Historical Society for its program on “Prejudice and Patriotism: The Story of Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service 1941 – 1952.”
For this screening we are sending the first test dub of the MPEG-2 encoding of our film for the forthcoming 2-disk Special Edition DVD.
Two educational forums are coming up in California this spring.
At the Japanese American National Museum, its affiliated National Center for the Preservation of Democracy is preparing to open this fall. Our full-color poster and ITVS Viewers Guide for Conscience and the Constitution will be on display at two Educator Preview workshops on April 21 and April 23 aimed at helping Southern California instructors, as one workshop promises, “capitalize on young people’s idealism while addressing their disengagement from civic institutions.”
Thanks to Teacher Programs Manager Allyson Nakamoto for including our materials on the resource tables, and for including our profiles and photos of Fair Play Committee members Ben Wakaye and Gloria Kubora, from our PBS Online site, in the activity cards for their forthcoming “Tool Kit” for teaching democracy and civic action, called “Fighting for Democracy.”
On June 2 will screen in San Francisco at the “Notice To All” symposium sponsored by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a 4-day conference intended to acknowledge all the projects that program funded and get participants to help map out a course for its future.
Producer/director Frank Abe will also be speaking on a panel from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. titled “Dissidence: Resisters and Renunciants” that will also feature scholar Eric Muller, author of Free to Die For Their Country, and some first-person testimonies from Nisei who chose, under wartime duress, to protest by renouncing their U.S. citizenship. More details later as the schedule shapes up.
Our film continues to provide different points of entry and different perspectives for audiences across the country this year. Just after screenings for the “Seattle Reads” program, two more programs have picked up our story: university students in Minnesota, and another humanities program in a town north of Denver:
“I am the co-advisor for a student organization called Asian Students in Action at St. Cloud State University. They are organizing a week-long on-campus event in April called Social Activism in Asian America. As part of the event, I wanted to show your film on April 21 for a campus wide audience… I thought your film was important in discussing not only the issue of what constitutes an American and what it means to be loyal, but also the difficulties of social activism especially when it creates a division within the community. Moreover, your film itself is a perfect example of social activism – the use of documentaries to educate people.”
— Dr. Kyoko Kishimoto, Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies
“Just wanted to let you know that Conscience and the Constitution is a unit of a seven part series that the Estes Park Public Library Foundation will be presenting this summer. The Foundation has a We the People Grant from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities that is titled “Pivotal Events in American Constitutional Hisotry: Their Impact on We the People.” The video will be presented on July 30th”
— Catherine K. Speer, Estes Park Public Library Foundation
Estes Park lies halfway between the cities of Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming, which should make for a very meaningful local presentation. Denver was the wartime home for James Omura’s Rocky Shimpo newspaper, and Cheyenne was the site for the federal conspiracy trial for Omura and the 7 leaders of the Fair Play Committee in 1944.
The screening is to be followed by a discussion, “The Story of Japanese-American Detention and Civil Disobedience,” led by Mrs. Lynn Young.