Nissan Foundation Celebrates 25 Years of Promoting Cultural Diversity

L to R: Scott Becker, President, Nissan Foundation; Vicki Smith, Executive Director, Nissan Foundation; Andrea Blackman, Division Head for Education Outreach and Special Collections, Nashville Public Library; Tony Conway, Vice President of Development, National Center for Civil Rights; Allyson Nakamoto, Director of Education, Japanese American National Museum; Denise Rolark Barnes, Board Chairman, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), and Publisher, The Washington Informer; Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Interim President and CEO, NNPA. Photo courtesy of the Nissan Foundation.

In addition to receiving a $20,000 grant to support school visits and public programs, the Japanese American National Museum recently had the honor of helping the Nissan Foundation celebrate its 25th anniversary at a luncheon to announce its 2017 grantees, held at the annual convention of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) in National Harbor, Maryland. JANM joined other grantees who are doing phenomenal work, such as the Nashville Public Library Foundation and the National Center for Civil Rights.

The Nissan Foundation happens to have a certain formative experience in common with the Japanese American National Museum, which many people are not aware of. JANM first opened its physical space to the public in April 1992, during the same week that the Rodney King trial verdict was announced, causing widespread civil unrest throughout the city of Los Angeles. That unrest had a profound influence on the shape of JANM’s opening ceremonies as well as its organizational philosophy moving forward.

As a direct response to the deep social injustice that gave rise to the LA Uprising, as many have come to call it, the Nissan Foundation was founded later that same year. For the past 25 years, the foundation has awarded grants to organizations committed to promoting cultural awareness and understanding through arts, education, and social and public programs. JANM has been the fortunate recipient of 15 grants from the Nissan Foundation to support such efforts as our School Visits program.

“I am extremely grateful that the Nissan Foundation, along with so many of JANM’s donors and members, share our belief that more students should have a chance to visit the museum and learn about the Japanese American experience,” said Allyson Nakamoto, JANM’s Director of Education, who represented the museum at Nissan’s luncheon.

During the 2016–17 school year, JANM hosted over 17,000 students; for many of them, the visit to JANM was their very first time at a museum. We strongly believe that all young people should have opportunities to think, interact, and reflect in a safe and stimulating environment. Research has proven that students who participate in school tours of museums gain critical thinking skills, display stronger historical empathy, develop higher social tolerance, and are more likely to visit cultural institutions in the future.

On behalf of over 17,000 students, thank you for your continuing support, Nissan Foundation. Here’s to another 25 years!

JANM Continues Educational Programming on Civil Rights

Like many individuals and organizations across the nation, JANM has been stepping up its efforts to raise public awareness and provide support in the wake of recent public policy initiatives that pose potential threats to immigrant communities.

 

 

The museum’s first “Teach-In” took place on December 8, 2016. We invited three speakers to share their perspectives. JANM volunteer Mas Yamashita spoke about being incarcerated as a child during World War II in Topaz, Utah; Betty Hung of Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles provided an overview of the political climate; and Mary Hendra of Facing History and Ourselves shared ideas for encouraging dialogue between students and teachers. What emerged was a shared understanding that teachers, school administrators, and community organizations like JANM must combine our efforts to ensure that our students feel safe.

You can watch a video of the entire presentation above. The speakers also provided downloadable handouts:

Post-Election DACA and Know Your Rights

An Open Letter to California’s Educational Leaders

Post-Election Support for Difficult Conversations

Following the Teach-In, members of JANM’s Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, and Education Department traveled to the White House to participate in “Generational Experiences of Asian Americans,” a program that examined the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II as well as contemporary challenges facing the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) communities today. Discussions of fears and obstacles evolved into coalition building, action, responsibility, and education.

Photo by Lynn Yamasaki, JANM School Programs Developer

JANM representatives who attended were inspired by high school and college students from around the country who are working hard to make an impact in their communities. Although fears persist, these young leaders made them feel grateful to educators who are encouraging young people to learn from the past and stand up against hatred and discrimination. A video of the event is available here.

At the end of March, JANM will be hosting a special two-day teacher workshop in conjunction with our current exhibition, Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066. Supported by a grant from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, this workshop will bring scholars, experts, and first-person voices together in an effort to gain a better understanding of how the current political climate impacts educators and students, and to create lesson plans to facilitate self-guided student visits. This event is currently at capacity, but interested educators may be added to the waiting list at this link.

Stay tuned for more news on JANM’s ongoing educational programs. To subscribe to our quarterly Educator’s E-Newsletter, click here.

JANM Hosts “Common Ground Conversations” Beginning This Week

The recent election has brought many social and political issues to the forefront of American consciousness. Stoked by sensationalistic news coverage, debates and statements have often been heated and not always productive. To counteract this phenomenon, we at the Japanese American National Museum thought we would try a different tactic. Thus, to begin this new year, we invite you to join us in connecting with other museum visitors in a search for “common ground.”

Beginning on January 12, JANM will present a four-week series of public conversations taking place in the galleries of our core exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community. Elements of the exhibition, which chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history through hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs, will serve as jumping-off points to start each week’s conversation. Sessions will take place on consecutive Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and each one will focus on a different topic. Staff members from the museum’s education department will lead and facilitate the discussions.

Following are the topics for each conversation:

January 12: Compassion
January 19: Transparency
January 26: Speaking out
February 2: Solidarity

Our hope is that Common Ground Conversations will generate meaningful dialogue centered on each week’s topic, using Japanese American history to delve into contemporary issues and current concerns. No tickets or RSVPs are required. Common Ground Conversations coincide with JANM’s free admission on Thursdays starting at 5 p.m.

We hope you’ll join us!

Teachers! It’s Time to Book a JANM Visit

Photo by Tracy Kumono
Photo by Tracy Kumono

 

Now that summer is almost over, it’s time for educators to plan their school year. JANM’s outstanding School Group Visits program, which offers a variety of stimulating and customizable activities, should be at the top of everyone’s list. Be sure to book your visit by August 31, as a rate increase will take place after that date.

We are now accepting school group visit reservations for the 2016–17 school year. For Title I schools and other groups with financial need, funding is available to cover the costs of admission and bus transportation. Funding is limited and you must apply in advance.

We offer several different options for customizing your visit. There has been increased interest in our newest tour options, which allow students to interact with our ongoing exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community, in new ways. For example, the Object Analysis Tour (suitable for grades 6–12), encourages students to analyze and interpret specific artifacts and images, while the Self-Guided Tour and Discussion (suitable for grades 9–12) asks students to independently explore Common Ground and then participate in a facilitated discussion on how the Japanese American experience relates to the themes of civil rights and democracy. These tours are often followed by one or two of the following optional activities:

Taiko Drumming (grades 1–12)
Origami Art (grades 2–12)
Story Time (grades 1–3)
Documentaries on the Japanese American experience (grades 6–12)
Object Analysis using the museum’s Education Collection (grades 6–12)

Photo by Gary Ono
Photo by Gary Ono

 

For high school students, we also recommend visiting Fighting for Democracy, our experimental exhibition featuring seven real people whose stories are traced through the pre-World War II, World War II, and postwar periods. Their stories demonstrate how millions of American lives were affected by the war, and how individuals struggled to attain equal rights for their families and communities.

Before bringing student groups to the Fighting for Democracy exhibition, educators are strongly encouraged to sign up for a free professional development workshop. JANM organizes customized workshops to provide an orientation to the exhibition and preparation on facilitating an interactive experience. Please email info@ncdemocracy.org to arrange a Fighting for Democracy educator workshop and visit. Free admission and field trip transportation is provided on a first-come, first-served basis for educators who attend the pre-visit workshop. A free Educator Resource Guide is also available for download!

Be sure to consult all of our free educator resources as you plan your year and your lesson plans. If you have any questions about planning your visit, please contact groupvisits@janm.org.

Young LA Rap Artist to Kick Off the National Youth Summit on Japanese American Incarceration

Three generations of the Tenorio family: father Phil, grandmother Sue, grandson Kane, and grandfather Alex. All photos courtesy of Sue Sato-Tenorio.
Three generations of the Tenorio family: father Phil, grandmother Sue, grandson Kane, and grandfather Alex. All photos courtesy of Sue Sato-Tenorio.

 

Kane Yutaka Tenorio, a college student and rap artist also known as “Kamikaze Kane,” was born in East Los Angeles in 1997. A young man of mixed Latino, Japanese, Native American, and white ancestry, Kane enjoys a close relationship with his extended family, including his grandmother Sue Sato-Tenorio, an educator and longtime friend of JANM.

As a youth, Kane spent a lot of time at his family’s three historic Boyle Heights homes, where he was able to learn about their history firsthand. His great-great-grandmother on his father’s side was a physician who practiced out of her house. She was also diabetic; when she was incarcerated at Poston by the US government during World War II, she became very ill due to lack of care and medication. Kane’s grandma Sue was born at the camp, along with her older brother. Although the family was lucky enough to retrieve their homes when the war was over, they lost their thriving businesses and virtually everything else.

Sue's parents, Jack Yutaka and Clara Sato.
Sue’s parents, Jack Yutaka and Clara Sato.

The real impact of these stories was not lost on Kane, who was an active participant in family discussions as a child. As he grew older, he took up the study of music, eventually writing and recording original rap songs, which were inspired by his own experiences and world events. Today he performs his material, which frequently addresses race and social justice, in venues throughout Southern California.

This Tuesday, May 17, at 10 a.m. PDT, JANM is proud to host the latest edition of the Smithsonian’s National Youth Summit, which will focus on the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Kane’s rap song “9066,” will be played to kick off the summit, after which a panel of dynamic speakers will address the history and legacy of the incarceration. (For more information about the Summit, click here.)

Kane Yutaka Tenorio, aka "Kamikaze Kane"
Kane Yutaka Tenorio, aka “Kamikaze Kane”

 

Kane’s song is both a stirring protest against injustice and a loving tribute to the resiliency of his family, whose stories are woven throughout. In his grandma Sue’s words: “I am so proud that Kane has written this rap not only about my experience, but the collective experiences of thousands of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in the United States of America. To me, his song is about the trajectory of injustice, and the terrible human consequences of our government’s illegal incarceration of people solely due to race.”

The museum’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum will host a full house of students and educators for this important edition of the National Youth Summit. Among the audience members will be three generations of the Tenorio family, including Kane and Sue. In addition, educators and their classrooms around the globe are invited to participate via a live webcast of the event; so far, the event has received registrations for more than 2,000 students from 42 states, the District of Columbia, France, and Canada.

It’s not too late to register your class for what will surely be a lively and engaging event. The Youth Summit website offers many useful educator resources, such as lesson plans and conversation kits, that can be downloaded. After the event concludes, the Smithsonian will archive it along with past Youth Summits on this webpage, where they are available for viewing at any time.

Sue and Alex Tenorio
Sue and Alex Tenorio

Los Angeles Summer of Learning is here!

Are you a student in the Los Angeles area? Are you a parent of a student in the Los Angeles area? Have you heard of Los Angeles Summer of Learning? Well this is something that you should definitely know about!

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Los Angeles Summer of Learning is a great new initiative that seeks to engage young people with hands-on learning activities at museums, parks, libraries, and other organizations during the summer months. Think of Los Angeles as one giant summer classroom where students can earn digital badges for participating in fun and educational activities throughout the city.

JANM is proud to participate in this initiative with our 2014 Natsumatsuri Family Festival on Saturday, August 9th. Students can earn a digital badge by coming to our popular annual summer celebration and checking out an array of traditional Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, talks, workshops, and special events. Admission is FREE all day!

To participate in Los Angeles Summer of Learning, all you have to do is sign up on the website and browse for activities that interest you or your children. You will be on your way to earning digital badges in no time! To get your Natsumatsuri badge, be sure to come to JANM on August 9th and ask for your badge claim code at our survey table.

You can read more about Los Angeles Summer of Learning here.

Fred #KorematsuDay 2014

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Karen Korematsu (right) visited JANM and worked with a group from a local high school. Photo by Richard M. Murakami.

 

January 30 is the birthday of the late Fred Korematsu and it is also Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and Social Justice!

Over the past few years, we have had a chance to get to know his daughter, Karen Korematsu, who has taken on the role of Co-Founder and now Executive Director of the Korematsu Institute, whose mission is to advance pan-ethnic civil and human rights through education.

Karen is joining with others to spread the word about her father’s story. As a young man, Mr. Korematsu purposely disobeyed the government’s 1942 order that excluded all people of Japanese ancestry, without due process, from the West Coast. He was arrested and eventually removed to a Japanese American concentration camp in Utah. He appealed his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in 1944 the Court ruled against him, declaring that the exclusion and confinement of people of Japanese descent was justified. It wasn’t until 1983 that his conviction was finally overturned. (Here is a link to his full bio.)

For teachers who are planning to commemorate Mr. Korematsu’s stand for civil liberties, we’ve put together a few links to FREE resources that we hope might be helpful to you:

• A neat opportunity for teachers to hear Karen Korematsu speak as part of UC Berkeley’s “Movement, Militarization, and Mobilization: The Bay Area Home Front in WWII” NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop—deadline to apply is 3/4/2014.

A link to order Korematsu Institute curriculum

• A series of short videos and powerpoint presentations commemorating Fred Korematsu, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Lesson plan to conduct a Korematsu Mock Trial with high school students, courtesy of Mark Hansen, a fantastic Texas teacher.

Happy Fred Korematsu Day!

 

It’s a National Youth Summit webcast! Join us!

We are so excited about our upcoming participation in a National Youth Summit with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and 10 other Smithsonian Affiliate organizations across the country.

On February 5, 2014 students from around the country will participate in a live webcast originating from The Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi. The program will reflect on the 1964 youth-led effort for voting rights and education known as Freedom Summer and will include a panel of activists, experts, and scholars.

Tamio Wakayama Photo: Tracy Kumono
Tamio Wakayama
Photo: Tracy Kumono

Following the webcast, JANM will have our own on-site program. Tamio Wakayama, a Nisei Japanese Canadian who joined the American Civil Rights Movement as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), will share his experiences and the documentary photographs that he took from 1963 to 1964.

Now, here’s the great part: all youth and educators are invited to participate from their classrooms through the magic of the web! Teachers… this means you! Just take a look at this fantastic site for the program.

The Smithsonian has provided teaching resources and other tools for you and your students. You can pre-register and join in the conversation along with us and view the program streaming live from the Old Capitol Museum.

Register online now >>

 

Back to School!

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Schools have started and JANM is back in session! Buses pull up each morning, filled with students and teachers coming to learn more about the Japanese American experience.

We are always thinking about ways in which these visitors—most of whom are not of Japanese descent—can better relate to the Japanese American experience. One of the ways we do this is to use the artifacts (the “stuff”) from JANM’s collection as a means to begin conversations about visitors’ diverse, yet intersecting, experiences.

So last Spring, we worked with a group of ninth graders from Los Angeles Unified School District’s King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science to see how artifacts connect to stories of immigration/migration. These students uncovered family histories to learn how their artifacts related to their families’ journeys.

Before coming to JANM for a school visit, students photographed their artifacts and wrote short narratives about journeys to Los Angeles from other states, other countries. The artifacts, like the artifacts in JANM’s collection, are indeed very precious and have some amazing stories to tell!

We hope that the sampling of the essays from the King/Drew students might also get you thinking about your own stories of immigration/migration.

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The students’ essays were created as part of a pilot project between King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Our American Journey Project. OAJ is a multi-year project that will examine international and internal migration centered on what we understand today to be the United States.

Photos by Gary Ono.

Girl Scouts Return to JANM

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JANM School Programs Developer Lynn Yamasaki explains more about the treatment of Hapa children born in Japan after WWII.

 

We loved having local Girl Scouts come out again for our second annual Girl Scout Patch Program! This year’s program was all about identity, both on the individual and community level. We began the day with a tour of our exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History (closing August 25th!). Lead by our School Programs Developer Lynn Yamasaki, the tour touched on the history of—and challenges faced by—mixed-race and mixed-roots Japanese Americans.

The tour was followed by a great discussion of some of the exhibition themes, like what it means to be Japanese in a rapidly evolving community. In the end, being Japanese  is about more than pure race, the scouts decided. Instead, Japanese American identity today  encompasses widespread cultural elements such as the ability to use chopsticks, a taste for sashimi (admittedly up for debate), and involvement in the community. On a more personal level, the girls discussed the many factors—from geography to heritage—that make up their backgrounds and shape their attitudes and behavior.

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Lynn leads a roundtable discussion with the scouts on what it means to be Japanese American today.

 

After the discussion, we moved on to expressing our identities in a more hands-on way—with the help of some paper doll templates and a vast array of supplies from the education closet! Each girl made a reflection of herself (and one mom joined in with a lovely family portrait), carefully selecting the portrait’s attributes and making each unique, from style of dress to life mottos.

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The scouts present their identity self-portraits…in paper doll form!

 

Photos by Richard Murakami