Category Archives: Teachers

New Educators Guide for “WE HEREBY REFUSE,” with online historical timeline

Educators Guide cover
Click on the image to open the new Educators Guide for WE HEREBY REFUSE

Just in time for the NCORE Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education this Friday in Portland, we are pleased to launch publication of the Educators Guide for We Hereby Refuse.

Produced for the Wing Luke Museum of Seattle, this free online guide is suitable for teachers in grades 6-12. I was honored to have the YURI Education Project take on development of the lesson plans tied to the book. We spent two years on development. Freda Lin and Cathlin Goulding have delivered an outstanding and timely resource.

Yuri logo“Given recent debates on critical race theory — and the banning of books that touch on the long, painful history of racial exclusion — we believe teaching We Hereby Refuse is an act of resistance,” says Cathlin Goulding, co-director of YURI. “Teaching this book demands that we center the experiences of people of color. Reading it with young people allows for an intricate, insistent reading of the American legal establishment and the longtime racism that has shaped citizenship. We can’t think of a better time to start introducing this book into U.S. schools.”

Educator Guide pageThe Educators Guide includes innovative lesson plans to physically engage students, such as how to organize a “tea party” where students get up and walk around the room, meeting and greeting each other as characters from the novel. In “tableau vivants” or “living pictures,” students act out a scene from the story that dramatizes the difficult decisions faced by our characters.

For electronic sharing, download a 13 MB PDF. To print out paper copies, download a high-quality 30 MB file.

Accompanying the printed guide is an online interactive historical timeline detailing the events of We Hereby Refuse. This timeline uses a software called Tiki-Toki that enables you to click on any event to get a pop-up of the story behind that event. You can then click to open o a rich database of the documents and photos that verify the history we tell in the graphic novel. 

online interactive historical timeline

online interactive historical timeline

Authors Note page

From my Author’s Note: While many classroom materials on World War II focus on the unfairness of being uprooted from one’s home solely on the basis of race, this educator’s guide takes the discussion a step further.

Yes, the mass removal of Japanese Americans was unjust and unfair, but those who were targeted by the government complied with Army orders to leave their homes, due in part to the surrender of protest by community leaders who urged cooperation.

This guide examines how some contested incarceration after their removal, through the example of three young Americans who refuse to submit to their ongoing imprisonment in American concentration camps without a fight. In each case, it is their desire to assert their American citizenship that drives these characters to action:

  • Jim Akutsu refuses to be drafted from camp, in order to get his day in court as an American citizen;
  • HIroshi Kashiwagi refuses the government demand to sign a loyalty oath in camp. He yields to family pressure to renounce his American citizenship, then must fight to get it back; and
  • Mitsuye Endo refuses a government offer to leave camp before her fellow incarcerees, so that her lawsuit challenging her detention as an American citizen can proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

While the specific subject of We Hereby Refuse is camp resistance, the book can be effectively taught as an overview of the entire camp experience, from start to finish. The story is told chronologically, so your students can experience the passage of time and the series of decisions that had to be made just as the characters did.

Wing Luke education director Rahul Gupta has also produced this We Hereby Refuse Training Resource Video to accompany the Guide, featuring three members of our Creative Team.
Wing Luke logoThis Educators Guide is produced by the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience with a Confinement Sites Grant from the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

Yuri logoAdditional funding for the Educators Guide is provided by the George and Sakaye Aratani “Community Advancement Research Endowment,” or Aratani C.A.R.E. Awards, from the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Our thanks to all our funders.

A season of professional development workshops

February was certainly a month dominated by speaking engagements around the Day of Remembrance and the 80th anniversary of the signing of EO 9066. My schedule for this spring and summer is lining up to be a season of professional development workshops to train the trainers, both educators and lawyers.
Continue reading A season of professional development workshops

The Alien Enemy Hearing Boards at Fort Missoula

drawing of FBI interrogation
from “We Hereby Refuse,” Chin Music Press, artwork by Ross Ishikawa

At this weekend’s education conference for the Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium, we’ll get a  virtual tour of the restored courtroom at Fort Missoula, and I’ll show how we used a transcript of a hearing inside that courtroom for a key scene in our graphic novel, We Hereby Refuse.

Continue reading The Alien Enemy Hearing Boards at Fort Missoula

Five events for Day of Remembrance 2021

When we staged the first Day of Remembrance 43 years ago, we had no idea how it would persist to become an invented tradition to be observed wherever Japanese Americans live. This year it’s a weekend more crowded than ever with five events at which I’ve been asked to speak. One consequence of pandemic isolation is the ability to be anywhere with Zoom, so I agreed to two events on Saturday and three on Sunday, covering all angles of resistance to wartime incarceration and the echoes to today:

Saturday, February 20, 2021, 11:00 am PT
Wing Luke Museum virtual tour of INS Building 

Wing Luke DOR tour logoA key scene in our graphic novel We Hereby Refuse takes place inside the U.S. Immigration Station, on the edge of Seattle’s Chinatown, where 100 immigrant Issei were held after their arrest by the FBI two months after  Pearl Harbor. I’ll join the virtual tour as a guest speaker to show scenes from our book of the detention of Jim Akutsu’s father inside the Immigration Station, and also read from my father’s own memoir about his detention there in the 1930’s. Register here.

Saturday, February 20, 2021, 2:00 pm PT
Wing Luke Museum online book launch

Wing Luke book launchCopies of our graphic novel won’t be ready for sale until March, but we’re going ahead with the Day of Remembrance launch of We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration. I’ll unpack how the structure of the book and its narrative arc upend the usual expectations around camp stories, Tamiko Nimura will read from a scene with her uncle Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and artists Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki will break down their process. To get the Zoom link to watch, you’ll need to register here.

Sunday, February 21, 2021, 1:00 pm PT
Tsuru for Solidary car caravan for Seattle’s Day of Remembrance

Tsuru Seattle 2021 graphicIn advance of a Day of Remembrance car caravan from the Puyallup Fairgrounds to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, I’ve recorded a video greeting that links the first Day of Remembrance at the fairgrounds in 1978 to the ongoing need to press for release of asylum-seekers still held at the GEO Group private prison operated on behalf of ICE. “Another Time, Another Place” is sponsored by Tsuru for Solidarity, La Resistencia, Densho, the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, Seattle JACL, and Puyallup Valley JACL.

[UPDATE: Here’s the four-minute video greeting from the blog’s YouTube channel]

Sunday, Feb.  21, 2021, 4:00 – 6:00 pm CT
Twin Cities JACL Day of Remembrance

Twin Cities DOR graphicA Twin Cities coalition is screening Conscience and the Constitution for its Day of Remembrance, after which I’ll join an online discussion with Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Japanese American and Muslim students from the University of Minnesota. Moderated by Twin Cities JACL chapter president Vinicius Taguchi.

[UPDATE: Watch my opening comments and the post-screening discussion, courtesy of the East Freedom Library YouTube channel]

Sunday, February 21, 2021, 6:00 pm PT
45th anniversary screening of Farewell to Manzanar
West Wind Capitol Drive-in Theater
3630 Hillcap Avenue

Saving the fun one for last: I was a featured actor in the 1976 TV-movie, Farewell to Manzanar, and was prevailed upon by publisher Kenji Taguma to organize and moderate a virtual cast and crew reunion prior to the COVID-safe screening of the film at a San Jose drive-in theater. We just recorded the Zoom gathering and those in their cars at the screening will hear some truly great stories. It’s sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation as the closing night event of its 10th anniversary Films of Remembrance series. Read the Nichi Bei Weekly article about it.

[UPDATE: For the live audience at the drive-in, a 20-minute video was screened. Here is the 28-minute “director’s cut,” produced and edited by Greg Viloria, courtesy of the Nichi Bei Foundation YouTube channel]

Sharing “NO-NO BOY” with teachers in six cities

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. Continue reading Sharing “NO-NO BOY” with teachers in six cities

Two National History Day projects draw from “Conscience”

quotations on displayOne of the benefits of putting online is making the story of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and the principled resistance to Japanese American incarceration readily available to students — particularly for National History Day projects. This year our site provided the raw material for two sets of students who selected the story of the Nisei draft resisters and other dissidents to address this year’s topic, “Conflict and Compromise in History.”
Continue reading Two National History Day projects draw from “Conscience”

Fordham Law students re-enact “Conscience, Loyalty, and the Constitution”

Fordham students

Proving that “racially motivated policies and discriminatory practices are timely issues,” law students at Fordham University in New York City on April 6 re-enacted both the mass trial of the 63 Heart Mountain resisters for refusing to report for Selective Service from inside an American concentration camp, and the subsequent trial of the 7 leaders of the Fair Play Committee and journalist James Omura for conspiracy to encourage draft resistance.

A photo gallery and summary are now posted on the Fordham Law News blog, “APALSA Students Give Heart to Heart Mountain.
Continue reading Fordham Law students re-enact “Conscience, Loyalty, and the Constitution”

Re-enactment of two trials of Heart Mountain resisters

A report is just in from Japan Culture NYC that students at Fordham Law School in New York City on April 6 will re-enact two of the trials of members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, evidently as a moot court study in Constitutional law and incarceration history.

Photo ©George and Frank C. Hirahara Collection, Washington State University Libraries Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.

Continue reading Re-enactment of two trials of Heart Mountain resisters

Upcoming program on no-no boys and “NO-NO BOY,” the novel

Suyama panel flyerPreparing my remarks now for a discussion in Seattle on March 12 with noted historians Roger Daniels and Barbara Takei on a topic that still opens wounds today. Register for free here.  

As we’ve written before, the goal of  the Eji Suyama, 100th Battalion/442nd RCT Draftees, No-Nos, Draft Resisters and Renunciants Archival Collection Endowment at UCLA is to preserve the history of the entire range of dissidence and resistance to the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

The project is coming to Seattle for Roger and Barbara to preview their much-anticipated new book on Tule Lake and the notorious Segregation Center, while I will talk about the life of novelist John Okada, author of the foundational novel, No-No Boy, and how he drew upon the story of the draft resisters and set it against the places he grew up in here in postwar Seattle. Read more in the Suyama Project news release. I’ll share new research and insights into the life of Okada, and some of the inspirations that went into his work.

Continue reading Upcoming program on no-no boys and “NO-NO BOY,” the novel