Commemorating 25 Years of the Civil Liberties Act

Gift of Norman Y. Mineta, Japanese American National Museum (96.370.16A)Gift of Norman Y. Mineta, Japanese American National Museum (96.370.16A)

There is a lot happening at JANM today, but we first wanted to take some time to remember that August 10, 1988 is the day that President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act. This Act offered an apology and granted redress and reparations to the over 110,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated during World War II.

The signing of the Civil Liberties Act was the result of a lot of hard work from many, many individuals and groups around the nation. The government’s formal acknowledgement of the unjust incarceration remains a major milestone in the history of not just the Japanese American community, but within the history of the United States.

To reflect upon this event, last month JANM hosted a national conference in Seattle themed, Speaking Up! Democracy, Justice, Dignity. A modified version of one of the panel sessions that took place in Seattle will also be happening today in Little Tokyo! If you have a chance, please drop by the DISKovery Center this afternoon to see selected video clips related to the Civil Liberties Act, including the powerful testimonials from the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Interment of Civilians (CWRIC) hearings that took place in Los Angeles. These free screenings are being put together by Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress and a full schedule is available here.

Hope that you’re able to take a moment today to reflect on the Civil Liberties Act and the impact that it (and World War II) had on the lives of so many. And thank you to all of those who—in ways big and small—worked to ensure that the United States is taking steps to becoming “a more perfect union.”


P.S. We are slowly making our way through the many photos from the conference and will be sharing more online soon!

Allyson Nakamoto

Allyson Nakamoto is the Director of Education at the Japanese American National Museum.

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