The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) commemorates Juneteenth, a U.S. federal holiday honoring the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
JANM recognizes Juneteenth as a critical moment in American history that moves toward efforts of embracing human rights and ending white supremacy. At the same time that JANM endorses this holiday, the Museum acknowledges that much more work is required to properly address systemic racism.
JANM promotes the understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. The national repository of Japanese American history, JANM also speaks out when diversity, individual dignity and social justice are undermined, vigilantly sharing the hard-fought lessons accrued from this history. Its underlying purpose is to transform lives, create a more just America and, ultimately, a better world.
JANM honors this holiday to stand in support of the African American community and observe the cultures and holidays of historically marginalized groups. The Museum will be closed on Sunday, June 19, 2022 in observance of this holiday.
The Consortium is made up of
organizations that have been recipients of funding from the Japanese American
Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program of the National Park Service. Our
purpose is to preserve and protect the history, the sites and artifacts related
to the Japanese American confinement experience. We are also committed to
elevating the social justice lessons of the incarceration and to highlighting
ways that civil and human rights abuses put at risk the rights of all
Americans. We are led by an Advisory Council that is made up of JANM, Heart Mountain
Wyoming Foundation, JACL, Friends of Minidoka and the National Japanese
American Memorial Foundation.
After four years in the making, the
Consortium has finally come of age. We have a clear sense of purpose and
direction, and, importantly, how to leverage our platform to build coalitions
and reach a wider audience. I am immensely proud that JANM, with guidance from
our Board Chair Norm Mineta, Trustee Harvey Yamagata, and Governor Doug Nelson,
has played a pivotal role in helping to shape the Consortium.
Over two days, representatives of 16
organizations met with 22 legislators and their staff to educate them about the
JACS program, to encourage their support for the re-appropriation of funding in
this year’s budget, and to ensure that they remember the unjust incarceration
of Japanese Americans when they consider policy or legislation that may cause
harm or marginalize any group. We heard bipartisan support for the JACS program
and what it has achieved.
A small group of us met with
staffers for key legislators who serve on the Appropriations Committee to
advocate for current funding but more importantly, to lay the groundwork for a permanently
funded program. We met with the staff from the offices of Representatives Mark
Takano, Betty McCollum, and Ed Case, and Senators Diane Feinstein, Brian
Schatz, and Mazie Hirono.
The culmination and high point of
the visits was a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who gave her
full commitment to ensuring that the program be funded. It was particularly
meaningful for all of us to have Chairman Norm Mineta join us for this
meeting. Speaker Pelosi was a co-sponsor of the Civil Liberties Act of
1988, and she and Norm have fought in many of the same trenches over the years.
It was enormously encouraging to know that we have strong support in such high
Norm also spoke movingly at a congressional
briefing that was sponsored by Representatives Judy Chu and Mark Takano and
co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association, Heart Mountain Wyoming
Foundation, Japanese American Citizens League, and the Consortium. The briefing
drew parallels between the trauma of the World War II incarceration of Japanese
Americans and the present detention of immigrant families and children at the
border, and the separation of children from their parents.
When I took over as Chair of the Consortium, I and others have started working to ensure that funding is made permanent. These legislative visits were in many respects a ‘dry run.’ We gleaned useful information on what we need to do to prepare, who the key influencers will be, and most importantly, that there is strong support for this. We have limited time to accomplish this task: there is approximately $7 million left in the original JACS fund, which represents only two – three more years of funding. We know that the overall impact has been substantial and JANM has benefited greatly over the years.
Coming closely on the heels of our
Capitol Hill visits, we heard not surprisingly, that the President’s budget has
again zeroed out the JACS program. In the coming weeks, the Consortium will be
mounting another advocacy campaign, spearheaded by JACL, to mobilize our
networks and the relationships with our elected officials to ensure that the funding
is restored. Many of you helped us last year, so please stand by – we will need
support from every one of you again.
The meetings occurred at a
tumultuous time, which emphasizes how important the legacy and lessons of the
Japanese American experience remain today. At the end of our time together in
DC, Stan Shikuma, who is a member of the Tule Lake Committee, stated that he
had not seen this kind of collaboration or mobilization in the Japanese
American community since the redress movement. To me, that highlights how
important it is to use the lessons of history to strengthen these bonds for the
betterment of our field and the country as a whole.