Twin Cities JACL Education Committee: 2015 Year in Review

The year 2015 was another very busy, productive year for the Education Committee, with many activities, events and speaking engagements.

MIS Photographic Exhibition

One of our main activities was co-sponsoring the photographic exhibit titled, “Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II,” produced by the National Japanese American Historical Society and the MIS Association of Northern California in San Francisco. In partnership with the

Featured panelists, Edwin (Bud) Nakasone and Albert Yamamoto, sharing their experiences serving as MIS soldiers at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center, Sept. 12, 2015.
Featured panelists, Edwin (Bud) Nakasone and Albert Yamamoto, sharing their experiences serving as MIS soldiers at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center, Sept. 12, 2015.

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), the exhibit was displayed at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center from April 24th to October 31st. Funding was provided by the generous donations from our membership and an on-line silent auction of vintage items donated by Phyllis Jokyll, Louise Platt, Wayne and Jean Takeshita, Steve Ozone, and others.

On May 17, we held a well-attended opening ceremony, emceed by Carolyn Nayematsu, with speakers Stephen Elliott, Executive Director of MHS; Sally Sudo; and exhibit curator Eric Saul. Karen Tanaka-Lucas, Joyce Yoshimura-Rank, and Gail Yanari Wong honored the MIS by speaking about their MIS veteran fathers. Major General Paul Nakasone gave a keynote address, and Tom Pfannenstiel, Site Manager, Fort Snelling Visitors Center gave closing statements. Also participating in the program were four Honor Guard Air Force Junior ROTC from Park High School, Cottage Grove, MN; Kasumi Lucas (great-grandfather was Walter Tanaka, MIS veteran) who led the Pledge of Allegiance; and Sheena Janson, Mu Performing Arts, who sang the National Anthem.

An educational panel discussion featuring MIS veterans Edwin “Bud” Nakasone and Albert Yamamoto, moderated by MHS Historian Steve Osman, was held on September 12. St. Paul Pioneer Press published an article by writer Maja Beckstrom on September 11 titled, “Japanese Americans recall World War II Fort Snelling military language operations,” which publicized the event and highlighted Bud Nakasone’s role in the MIS.

Other publicity about the MIS exhibit included:

  • May 10, 2015, Star Tribune – “Minnesota history: Secret military language school at Fort Snelling getting recognition,” by reporter Curt Brown.
  • May 20, 2015: Fox 9 – “Fort Snelling had a secret Japanese language school during WWII,” by reporter Jonathan Choe.
  • May 22, 2015: MPR News – “Secret Weapons’ of WWII: Exhibit spotlights Japanese-American linguists, by reporters Nancy Yang and Britta Greene.

According to the exhibit comment book signed by over 900 guests, visitors represented 38 states and 20 foreign countries.

Teacher Training Workshop

On April 24, we hosted an all-day training session for educators on “Constitutional Vigilance in Times of Crisis” at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center. This workshop was funded by a grant awarded to the National JACL by the National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites program.

Greg Marutani speaks to educators at the teacher training workshop on the Japanese American WWII Experience, held at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center, April 24, 2015.
Greg Marutani speaks to educators at the teacher training workshop on the Japanese American WWII Experience, held at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center, April 24, 2015.

The Twin Cities was one of five sites selected by the National JACL Education Committee to host a workshop. The facilitators were Greg Marutani, National JACL Education Director, and Sharon Ishii-Jordan, Associate Dean, Creighton University, Omaha, NE.

As part of the workshop, Lucy Kirihara, Sylvia Farrells, and Bud Nakasone served as panelists, sharing their WWII experiences. In addition, Abdisalam Adam, from the Office of Multicultural Learning at St. Paul Public Schools, and Yusef Ali, Executive Director of Best Academy East, were panelists who talked about their experiences in the Twin Cities as Muslim Americans. Our Twin Cities site had the largest participation of any of the five locations, with 34 educators and others registered.

Asian Pacific Legal Exhibit and Korematsu Program

Sally Sudo met with members of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association to help them prepare a traveling exhibit titled, “Asian Pacific Legal Experience in America.” The opening reception was held on May 20 at the U.S. Courthouse Atrium, Minneapolis, MN. Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu, was the keynote speaker. She visited the MIS photographic exhibition, along with Judge Tony Leung and members of the Minnesota chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

During her trip to Minnesota, Karen Korematsu (in plaid red coat) visited the MIS photographic exhibit at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center, accompanied by members of the Minnesota chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MN-NAPABA) and Twin Cities JACL Education Committee, May 20, 2015. Pictured L-R are: Keiko Sugisaka, Emily Faber- Densley, Magistrate Judge Tony Leung, Karen Korematsu (daughter of civil rights activist, Fred Korematsu), Karen Tanaka Lucas, Carolyn Nayematsu, Janet Carlson, and Sally Sudo.
During her trip to Minnesota, Karen Korematsu (in plaid red coat) visited the MIS photographic exhibit at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center, accompanied by members of the Minnesota chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MN-NAPABA) and Twin Cities JACL Education Committee, May 20, 2015. Pictured L-R are: Keiko Sugisaka, Emily Faber- Densley, Magistrate Judge Tony Leung, Karen Korematsu (daughter of civil rights activist, Fred Korematsu), Karen Tanaka Lucas, Carolyn Nayematsu, Janet Carlson, and Sally Sudo.

The Education Committee provided support for the re-enactment of the Fred Korematsu Case, “A Man of Quiet Bravery,” performed by Minnesota State and Federal judges and attorneys at the Federal District Court, Minneapolis, MN. Twin Cities JACL former internees were recognized. Karen Korematsu gave remarks about her father after the re-enactment.

Speaking Engagements

Although President Roosevelt issued his Executive Order 9066 seventy-four years ago, the topic of the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from their west coast homes and placement into American prison camps has never been discussed as much as it has been in recent months, primarily due to the rhetoric of candidates campaigning to be the next President of the United States.

Sally Sudo speaking at Highlands Elementary School in Edina, December 2, 2015.
Sally Sudo speaking at Highlands Elementary School in Edina, December 2, 2015.

With recent acts of terrorism, the fear mongering against Muslim and Arab Americans is reminiscent of the atmosphere following Pearl Harbor. That is why it is still relevant to remind Americans of our history, so the same mistake is not repeated. We have been busy filling requests for speakers on the topic of the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Requests for speakers this year were as follows:

  • January 15 – Sally Sudo spoke to Miss Branderhorst’s English class at Calvin Christian High School, Fridley.
  • March 12 – Sylvia Farrells spoke to a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) group in Eden Prairie.
  • March 16 and 18 – Sally Sudo spoke to 4 classes for Mr. Mark Bray, Eden Prairie High School.
  • April 15 – Sally Sudo spoke to three classes of Asian Studies for Amanda Adams at Eagan High School.
  • Speakers Sylvia Farrells and Sally Sudo at Bloomington Creekside Community Center, December 7, 2015.
    Speakers Sylvia Farrells and Sally Sudo at Bloomington Creekside Community Center, December 7, 2015.

    April 20 – Sally Sudo spoke at University of St. Thomas School of Law as part of the “Perspectives” event series, presented by the St. Thomas Asian Pacific Association Law Students Association.

  • July 15 – Albert Yamamoto spoke at the Wayzata Rotary Club.
  • October 13 – Sally Sudo spoke at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church Senior Group, Bloomington.
  • October 23 – Karen Tanaka Lucas spoke to a class at the University of MN and accompanied students to view the MIS exhibit at Fort Snelling.
  • November 5 – Sally Sudo spoke at a DAR Luncheon, Richfield American Legion.
  • December 2 – Sally Sudo spoke to three classes (3rd-5th grades) at Highlands Elementary School, Edina.
  • December 7 – Sylvia Farrells and Sally Sudo participated in “Coffee Talks” at Bloomington Creekside Community Center.

An interview of Sylvia and Sally was filmed by the Bloomington Community TV Channel on December 7, and posted on YouTube.

Materials and Resources

The following resources and materials have been added to the Twin Cities JACL collection:

DVD

  • “Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story” 33 min. Based on the true story of a 17 yr. old Mexican American boy who leaves his family to enter an American concentration camp with his Japanese American classmates in WWII.

BOOKS

  • Arrington, Leonard J: The Price of Prejudice: The Japanese American Relocation Center in Utah during WWII
  • Corbett, P. Scott: Quiet Passages; The Exchange of Civilians between the United States and Japan during the Second World War
  • Lee, Erika: The Making of Asian America: A History
  • Maki, Mitchell T., Kitano, Harry H.L., and Berthold, S. Megan: Achieving the Impossible Dream
  • Matsuoka, Jack: Poston Camp II Block 211
  • Moulin, Peter: American Samurais WWII Camps: From USA Concentration Camps to the Nazi Death
  • Moulin, Pierre: American Samurais WWII in Europe
  • Moulin, Pierre; American Samurais WWII in the Pacific: Military Intelligence Service
  • Odo, Franklin, editor: The Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience
  • Reeves, Richard: Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II
  • Robinson, Greg: By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans
  • Russell, Jan Jarbor: The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During WWII

Upcoming Events/Plans

The Twin Cities Education Committee is currently in the planning stages for commemorating the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which took place on February 19, 1942.

Networking with other Japanese American associations, December 11, 2015. L to R: Dean Potter (freelance writer), Jo Ann Blatchley (President of the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee), Gloria Kumagai, Ben van Lierop (Executive Director, Japan America Society of Minnesota), Sally Sudo, and Janet Carlson.
Networking with other Japanese American associations, December 11, 2015. L to R: Dean Potter (freelance writer), Jo Ann Blatchley (President of the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee), Gloria Kumagai, Ben van Lierop (Executive Director, Japan America Society of Minnesota), Sally Sudo, and Janet Carlson.

The Minnesota Historical Society and Macalester College will be co-sponsoring some of our events. We will be looking for sources of grant funding for help with expenses.

Our future plans include the following:

  1. January – March 2017 – Exhibition of Roger Shimomura’s lithographs, focusing on camp-themed prints, co-sponsored by Macalester College Art Department.
  2. February 19, 2017 – Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society. Rick Shiomi of Full Circle Theater and TC JACL youth will be featured in the presentation, and Kogen Taiko will perform.
  3. Spring 2017 – We are looking into bringing a one-actor show about Gordon Hirabayshi, “Hold These Truths,” and/or a reading about Hirabayashi by Rick Shiomi to a stage in the Twin Cities.
  4. Spring 2017 – We are exploring another co-sponsorship with the Minnesota Historical Society using space at Historic Fort Snelling Visitors Center for a photographic exhibition. Possibilities include: “Gambatte: Legacy of an Enduring Spirit” by Paul Kitagaki, or “America’s Concentration Camps” from the National Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco.

In addition, we have been asked to collaborate on two other initiatives if they are funded.

  1. “Communities of Courage and Compassion” – National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Program grant submitted by the Go For Broke (GFB) Educational Foundation, Torrance, CA. Gordon Nakagawa and Cheryl Hirata-Dulas participated in a conference call with Barbara Watanabe and Chris Brusette of GFB, and Gordon wrote a letter of support for the project.
  2. “Toward Equal Justice Under the Law: From Confinement Sites to Mass Incarceration” – National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Program grant submitted by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, headquartered in New York, in collaboration with the Fort Snelling Historic Site and Minnesota Historical Society.

Thank you to the following committee members for their time and commitment in 2015: Janet Carlson, Rachel Endo, Sylvia Farrells, Lillian Grothe, Cheryl Hirata-Dulas, Lucy Kirihara, Gloria Kumagai, Karen Tanaka Lucas, Joyce Miyamoto, Gordon Nakagawa, Carolyn Nayematsu, Sally Sudo, and Matt Walters. Special advisors to our group are Edwin “Bud” Nakasone, and Steve Ozone. We are working tirelessly on behalf of the TC JACL.

Members of the TC JACL Education Committee. L to R: Lucy Kirihara, Janet Carlson, Cheryl Hirata-Dulas, Joyce Miyamoto, Lillian Grothe, Steve Ozone, Carolyn Nayematsu, Sally Sudo, Sylvia Farrells, Karen Lucas, and Gloria Kumagai. Missing: Bud Nakasone.
Members of the TC JACL Education Committee. L to R: Lucy Kirihara, Janet Carlson, Cheryl Hirata-Dulas, Joyce Miyamoto, Lillian Grothe, Steve Ozone, Carolyn Nayematsu, Sally Sudo, Sylvia Farrells, Karen Lucas, and Gloria Kumagai. Missing: Bud Nakasone.

After 20 years of chairing this committee, Sally Sudo has passed the duties on to Carolyn Nayematsu and Janet Carlson who will serve as co-chairs. We also welcome aboard new committee members Gordon Nakagawa and Teresa Swartz. Questions or comments can be directed to any of the committee members. Donations (which are tax deductible) are always greatly appreciated. Checks can be made payable to “TC JACL Education Committee,” and mailed to the TC JACL treasurer as follows:

Janet Carlson
11270 12th St. N.
Lake Elmo MN 55042


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