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By Toshiko Hasegawa
& Maria Batayola
Guest Columnists

It was February 19, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized Executive Order 9066 during World War II resulting in the incarceration of 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry, a racially motivated atrocious denial of their constitutional rights. On February 19, the National Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) coordinates Day of Remembrance (DoR) commemorations across the nation to ensure that Americans are aware of and actively protect their constitutional rights.

The 2015 DoR is a day where we reflect upon the signing of President Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, it’s impact on the Japanese American experience then and today, and honor the examples of valor and patriotism demonstrated by the Nisei who endured the wartime experience as victims of injustice and as timeless heroes.

This year, members of the JACL teamed up with Nikkei Concerns, Nisei Veterans Committee, Nisei Veterans Committee Foundation, Wing Luke Museum, education advocates, and legislators from three different districts to organize the first ever Day of Remembrance as a Legislative Day of Action. This day will be used as an opportunity to advocate for the funding of the Kip Tokuda Memorial Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (CLPEF) in the amount of $250,000. The CLPEF was established as a mechanism for public school programs to teach Civil Liberties and the Japanese American WWII experience.  Last year, the Fund was renamed Kip Tokuda CLPEF in honor of the late Representative and former JACL Seattle Chapter President Kip Tokuda.

The wonderful news is that the funding for the Kip Tokuda Memorial CLPEF was included in the governor’s proposed 2016-2017 budget in the full amount requested, $250,000. Many observe the Day of Remembrance each year. This year, we have the opportunity to take the legacy of our Nisei one step further.

As usual, there will be a JACL-sponsored charter bus to and from Olympia to transport the Nisei Vets, their loved ones, and all others who wish to observe the DoR and those who wish to lobby in Olympia. This service is available to the public! So please, if you wish to observe the DoR Day of Action in Olympia, RSVP with Toshiko Hasegawa at [email protected] and she will give you details about the bus pick up/drop off, can advise you on how to make legislative appointments in Olympia, and answer questions you may have about how to effectively lobby in Olympia.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, InterIm Community Development Association named its 96-unit affordable housing project Hirabayashi Place. The building is located on 4th and Main at the northwest boundary of Nihonmachi (Japantown) of Seattle’s Chinatown International District.

Gordon Hirabayashi defied the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II because it was racially discriminatory and violated his rights as a U.S. citizen. He took his case to the Supreme Court in 1943, but his case was defeated. Forty years later, he fought and won vacation of his wartime convictions. Hirabayashi Place has a community Legacy of Justice Committee that is working on ways to use the building to tell the civil rights story of Hirabayashi, an American civil rights hero. For details, contact Leslie Morishita at [email protected]

These educational efforts are more relevant and meaningful nowadays when Arab American and Muslim communities are targeted with hate crimes in the aftermath of the terrorist acts on September 11, 2001, and when communities across the nation are chanting “Black Lives Matter” to call out police treatment of African Americans.

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