A Recap of the 2019 Gala Dinner and Silent Auction

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres welcomed guests to the annual Gala Dinner and Silent Auction on April 13, kicking off a festive evening for more than 1,000 people who came together in support of JANM and its wide-ranging work. This year’s theme paid tribute to the museum’s Charter Members—the first individuals and families to see and believe in the importance of the museum and its enduring role in our democratic society. JANM’s Watase Media Arts Center produced a video about some of these individuals; it featured poet and educator Amy Uyematsu, scholar and author Barbara Kawakami, World War II Military Intelligence Service veteran and author Edwin Nakasone, and photographer Stan Honda–all JANM Charter Members.

Ann Curry, the Gala’s featured speaker, was one of the highlights of the evening. A former NBC News anchor and international correspondent, Curry has reported on conflicts and humanitarian disasters all over the world. In October 2018, as a writer for National Geographic Magazine, Curry wrote about the mass incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II and the racism and prejudice that gave rise to it. Her speech at the Gala touched upon the political divisiveness the world has seen in recent years as well as her family’s own experiences with discrimination.

Earlier in the evening, a fast and furious round of donations went to support JANM’s Bid for Education; over $200,000 was raised. Those funds go to support bus transportation and museum admission for primary and secondary school students from Title I schools and groups who have demonstrated financial need. Bid for Education funds also supports K-12 educator workshops and many other educational initiatives.

On a more somber note, the night included an In Memoriam segment, honoring remarkable individuals who played significant roles in furthering JANM’s mission to promote appreciation of diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Grateful Four, a group of music-loving friends that try to connect to their Japanese American culture and give back to their community through the power of song, accompanied the video presentation of those who passed in the year since the last Gala.

As the night concluded, guests left with an even deeper understanding of the vital work the museum does: presenting engaging exhibitions, providing docent-led tours for school groups, speaking out against injustice and discrimination, preserving our sizable permanent collection of artifacts, and much more. To all of our generous supporters and friends who made the Gala such a successful and meaningful evening, thank you for joining us!

Can’t Attend the 2018 Gala Dinner? Show Your Support Anyway!

JANM’s 2018 Gala Dinner is just a few days away, on April 21. Even if you’re not able to attend in person, you can still support an important JANM initiative that is the focus of a portion of the evening: the Bid for Education.

JANM’s Bid for Education program was officially launched at the 2000 Gala Dinner by the late US Senator Daniel K. Inouye in response to state budget cuts that threatened bus transportation for school field trips. Since then, it has become a galvanizing force behind the museum’s School Visits program, making field trips to JANM possible for more than 12,000 primary and secondary school students and teachers every year.

Funds raised by the Bid for Education are earmarked to support bus transportation and museum admission for primary and secondary school students from Title I schools and groups who have demonstrated financial need. Both school buses and public transportation are eligible for funding. Bid for Education funds also support K–12 educator workshops, the development of free resources for educators, docent recruitment and training, and many other educational initiatives.

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Bid for Education funds support bus transportation to JANM for primary and secondary school students, like these third-graders. Photo by Gary Ono.

One teacher from Bell Gardens, California, recently shared this with us: “As a Title I school with financial need, your grants have provided us with the opportunity to coordinate a field trip to such a worthwhile institution, which provides our students with an invaluable cultural experience.”

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The Bid for Education allows students to have docent-led tours of JANM’s Common Ground exhibition, like this one led by volunteer Mas Yamashita. Photo by Tracy Kumono.

Another educator, from Lynwood, California, said, “We thank JANM for the generous Bid for Education scholarship that made our great day possible. We wish you continued success in your mission to educate, enlighten, and inspire.”

Bid for Education receives much of its funding during the annual Gala Dinner, but donations can be made at any time. If you won’t be with us at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites this Saturday, please consider making a gift online now. Support at any level is greatly appreciated!