JANM supports the Environment

Last Sunday the National Museum teamed up with Great Leap for a day of environmental performances, workshops, and vendors. Check out some of the exciting pics by one of our favorite volunteer photographers Ben Tonooka!

Waribashi art by JANM staff member Clement Hanami

Great Leap Performs in front of the Tateuchi Democracy Forum!
Great Leap let's us know why it's important to recycle!

Gettin’ arty at Target Free Family Day THIS SATURDAY!

Saturday (June 11th) is Target Free Family Saturday from 11 am – 4 pm! This month we join our neighbors at MOCA in celebrating Street Art.  We have a full schedule of painting demonstrations, sketching workshops, and art making activities. Our friends from the Mixed Roots Festival will be taking part in the fun with some art making too.

I always have so much fun thinking about art activities for Family Day but, sometimes, something seems like a good idea at first but it needs to be tested and tweaked before putting it into action at Family Day.  Yesterday I tried things out and made a few samples of our poster making and sticker printing activities for Saturday. Fortunately, everything worked out pretty well so, come on over!  We’re ready! I can’t wait to see what the creative minds of our Family Day visitors will come up with.  Hope you’ll join us!

Allen Say

Drawing from Memory

Excerpt from "Drawing from Memory" by Allen Say

I received my preview copy of Allen Say’s upcoming book yesterday and can’t wait to carry it in the Store. Drawing from Memory is based on his 1979 novel, The Ink-Keeper’s Apprentice, which was essentially a biographical account of the defining moments of an artist as a young boy. I read Ink-Keeper’s Apprentice after buying El Chino for my four-year-old child. (I really bought it for myself, because I was blown away by the story of a Chinese American bullfighter!) I wanted to know more about the author and to find other books by him. The story captivated me in its stark, straight-forward examination of life of a pre-adolescent living in post war Japan. It was a story that was at once very extraordinary, yet surprisingly familiar.

Drawing from Memory, the new book, is a fleshing out of Say’s story with the the talent which he has become best known for—his achingly beautiful paintings. He tells the real stories behind the novel, shares pictures and details of his friends and beloved sensei, Noro Shinpei, and also frames a picture of life in post-war Japan.

The visual look of this book shows the versatility of Say’s art—his command of color, line, framing, and storytelling—along with his keen sense of zen spareness. He knows how much is enough.

Allen SayHere’s a link to the promotion Scholastic is doing with 65,000 librarians. Click on non-fiction. You’ll have to wait through two other promos, but you’ll be rewarded with a sneak peak at Drawing from Memory.

And mark your calendars because Allen Say will be here on September 17 for a Public Program and booksigning. (We will also have some of the original artwork on display that weekend!)

Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)

Nikkei community newspapers

Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)
Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)

Nikkei newspapers like The Rafu Shimpo in Los Angeles and the Nichi Bei up in San Francisco have served important roles since the early Issei immigrants began establishing communities across the United States.

Last spring, our Discover Nikkei team began working on a project to share stories about some of these publications and organize a public program. On April 2, 2011, we presented “From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspaper” in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum in partnership with The Rafu Shimpo, Nichi Bei Foundation/Nichi Bei Weekly, Cultural News, and Nikkei Nation.

The program included a historical overview by Gil Asakawa and presentations by panelists Gwen Muranaka (Rafu Shimpo), Kenji Taguma, (Nichi Bei Foundation/Nichi Bei Weekly), Shigeharu Higashi (Cultural News), and George Johnston (Nikkei Nation). The presentations were followed by a moderated discussion and questions from the audience covering topics such as the coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as local relief efforts; the viability of Nikkei media and the closing of some longtime newspapers in recent years; how can Nikkei media change to be relevant to younger demographics without alienating older generations; and the use and role of social media.

Participants of the "From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers" program on April 2, 2011

For those who missed the program, we now have video footage from the program online on Discover Nikkei:
From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers, April 2, 2011

View articles about Nikkei community newspapers on Discover Nikkei >>

View photos from Museum’s Toyo Miyatake Studio / Rafu Shimpo Collection >>

50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

Panelists (L to R): Robert Singleton, Helen Singleton, Sybil Jordan Hampton (moderator), Tamio Wakayama
Student with his artwork inspired by the Freedom Rides

I often take for granted how easy it is to follow breaking news. To find out what happened during a raid on a compound in Pakistan, I can turn on a 24-hours news channel or click on a few links to get caught up.

But 50 years ago the medium of television was new. And 50 years ago today, the first buses of Freedom Riders (and three reporters) left Washington, D.C. and headed South to test Boynton v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that had desegregated interstate travel. What followed changed the course of the United States history.

The Freedom Rides have been on our minds a lot this year. On February 9, 2011 the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History organized a Web cast and National Youth Summit that brought together Freedom Riders in D.C. and engaged five Smithsonian Affiliates from across the nation to discuss the meaning of the Freedom Rides and the role of young people in shaping America’s past and future.

Student with Dr. Robert Singleton

JANM was honored to have been selected as the West Coast venue for this program and streamed the Webcast to a live audience of students from LAUSD’s Civitas School of Leadership and Ribet Academy. Following the Webcast, Dr. Robert and Mrs. Helen Singleton, two Los Angeles-based Freedom Riders, and Mr. Tamio Wakayama, a Japanese Canadian member of SNCC, were on a panel moderated by Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, a member of JANM’s Board of Trustees and herself an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement. We were star struck!!!

This has gotten us thinking about how the Freedom Rides impacted Japanese Americans, and especially how it may have emboldened those in the Redress Movement. What were the Issei, Nisei, and Sansei who watched these images broadcast on national television (just as that medium was becoming commonplace) thinking and feeling as they watched the buses burning, the cruel racism, and brave individuals standing up for what was right?

What would you have been thinking if you had been watching those Freedom Riders make their way South under the “protection” of Boynton v. Virginia?

P.S. To learn more about the Freedom Rides, tune into your PBS station on May 16 and also we highly recommend The Children by David Halberstam. Learn more about new generation of young people who are about to retrace the path of the Freedom Riders. And, maybe you can catch a glimpse of the Singletons when Oprah Winfrey reunites the Freedom Riders on May 4.

Photographer: Tracy Kumono

SPECIAL EVENT: Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro-Ng

Maya Soetoro-Ng

I am super excited that Maya Soetoro-Ng is coming to the Museum next week (April 20 at 1 pm) to read from her new children’s book “Ladder to the Moon.” For those of you who don’t know, Mrs. Soetoro-Ng is an educator, but is also President Obama’s sister.

Mrs. Soetoro-Ng was at the museum almost a year ago. She spoke with artist/educator/Hapa activist Kip Fulbeck and actor Amy Hill. Here is an article one of our interns wrote about Maya and her visit to JANM.

Here is a brief description of the book:

Ladder to the Moon

Little Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma, who would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could, Mama says. And one night, Suhaila gets her wish when a golden ladder appears at her window, and Grandma Annie invites the girl to come along with her on a magical journey.

In a rich and deeply personal narrative, Maya Soetoro-Ng draws inspiration from her mother’s love for family, her empathy for others, and her ethic of service to imagine this remarkable meeting.

Hope to see you there!

For more information about the program, click here.

The Museum store will be selling the book and Ms. Soetoro-Ng will be signing the books after the program.

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Koji Steven Sakai
Public Programs Manager