Day of Remembrance

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Screen Before They Take Us Away, and discuss the legacy of WWII era Japanese American incarceration.

This is an in-person program.

At the start of World War II, as the US Government prepared to forcibly remove and incarcerate all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast, a small number of Japanese Americans took their fate in their own hands and fled the coast, becoming refugees in their own country, on a forced migration into the unknown. Before They Take Us Away is the first documentary to chronicle the untold stories of the “self-evacuees” who spent the war years outside the camps, as they struggled to rebuild their lives and overcome poverty, isolation, hostility and racial violence.

On February 19th, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave the U.S. Army the authority to remove civilians from the military zones established in Washington, Oregon, and California during WWII. This led to the forced removal and incarceration of some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, who were forced to abandon their jobs, their homes, and their lives to be sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered in desolate, remote regions of the country.

No Japanese Americans were ever charged, much less convicted, of espionage or sabotage against the United States. Yet they were targeted, rounded up, and imprisoned for years.

Every February, the Japanese American community commemorates Executive Order 9066 as a reminder of the impact the incarceration experience has had on families, communities, and country. It is an opportunity to educate others on the fragility of civil liberties in times of crisis, and the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting the rights and freedoms of all.

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