The story of No-No Boy and John Okada is being shared this summer with middle and secondary teachers of history and the humanities in six cities across the nation, as part of a series of place-based online workshops sponsored by the National Japanese American Historical Society of San Francisco and the National Park Service.
We’ve had great discussions already with educators in Chicago and Boise, Idaho. It’s been instructive to localize Okada’s time writing his novel in the Midwest for the Chicago audience, and to share Jim Akutsu’s “kangaroo court” trial at the federal courthouse in Boise with teachers in Idaho.
Still to come are four more workshops:
— July 16 for Seattle, for which we’ll of course share the locations where Okada was born and raised,
— July 30 for Minneapolis, with a focus on Okada’s training at the MIS Language School at Fort Snelling,
— August 4 for Washington, DC, which will include participation by Heart Mountain resister Tak Hoshizaki,
— and a final workshop on a date TBA for Albuquerque, NM … umm, where the brother of one of Okada’s brothers-in-law lives. Here’s the full program description from NJHAS:
How did the experience of being forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated affect the choices made by people of Japanese ancestry as they responded to the government’s call for loyalty and service?
In the workshop, We Are All Americans, we explore the deep moral dilemma young people of Japanese ancestry faced in the 1940’s—the decision of whether or not to serve in the US military while their families were incarcerated in concentration camps by the U.S. government without due process.
We Are All Americans will focus on four case studies: Gordon Hirabayashi, who registered as a Conscientious Objector while his close cousin fought overseas; Jack Tono, a draft resister with the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee; and Harry Fukuhara and Walter Tsukamoto who served with the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). We will also have a live presentation on John Okada (MIS), by speaker Frank Abe, author of John Okada: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy.
Join your colleagues for open-ended inquiry into what it means to be American – then and now. Why did some individuals believe civil rights should be restored before service, while others were committed to proving themselves to gain back civil rights?
This workshop is co-sponsored by the National Japanese American Historical Society, and the National Park Service.
The project was funded in part, by the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant, administered by the National Park Service, JA Community Foundation, and the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.