Traveling Exhibit, Supported by National Park Service Grant, to Showcase 10 U.S. Communities
Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) today announced the launch of a national traveling exhibition, “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience.” Funded in part by a 2016 grant administered by the National Park Service (NPS), the exhibit will chronicle the story of the Japanese American experience during WWII, and feature local stories of bravery and extraordinary support of Japanese Americans from communities across the country.
From July 2017 through summer 2019, the exhibit will visit 10 U.S. communities where citizens extended a helping hand to Japanese Americans during and after the turbulent days of WWII. In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, many officials and community members viewed residents of Japanese ancestry, U.S. citizens and immigrants alike, with fear and mistrust. Japanese Americans were targets for harassment and discrimination, and families on the West Coast were forcibly removed to government-run incarceration camps.
“Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience” will reflect on the Japanese American experience from Pearl Harbor through the end of the incarceration and into the redress movement that resulted in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The interactive exhibit, designed by Quatrefoil Associates, will feature images and audio of firsthand accounts, including interviews of Japanese American soldiers from GFBNEC’s Hanashi Oral History Collection. Each community partner will research and curate unique local stories of courage and compassion within the exhibit.
“The exhibit honors everyday people who rose above the public hysteria of WWII to recognize Japanese Americans as friends, neighbors and citizens,” Dr. Mitchell T. Maki, GFBNEC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “These untold stories have real relevance today as we confront issues of loyalty, citizenship, due process and Constitutional rights. Thanks to a two-for-one matching grant from the NPS’ Japanese American Confinement Site Grant Program, we raised a total of $568,406 to educate the public on the nature of bravery during a dark chapter of our history.”
“Courage and Compassion” will debut in Salem, Oregon on July 13, 2017, in partnership with the Willamette Heritage Center. Despite the hostile climate following the Pearl Harbor attack, some Willamette Valley locals and leaders spoke up in support of their Japanese American friends. From farmers who helped their incarcerated neighbors save their crops to a local Senator who braved political backlash to suggest that Japanese Americans might remain loyal to the U.S., these individual voices of conscience deserve to be remembered today.
Other community partners will include: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai′i, Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo, Hawaii; the Kingsburg Historical Society, Kingsburg, Calif.; Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio; St. Marys School of Nursing Alumni Association, Rochester, Minn.; Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League, Minneapolis, Minn.; Monterey Japanese American Citizens League, Monterey, Calif.; History Department, Bradley University, Peoria, Ill.; Chicago Japanese American Historical Society and Japanese American Service Committee, Chicago; and New Mexico Japanese American Citizens League, Albuquerque, New Mexico. More information will be released on each venue and its unique stories as the tour progresses.
Note to Media: “Go For Broke” was the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated Army unit composed of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland. The term was Hawaiian slang for “shooting the works,” or risking everything for the big win in gambling—as the Nisei soldiers did while fighting in the field in WWII and facing prejudice at home in the U.S.
About Go For Broke National Education Center
Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that educates the public on the valor of Japanese American veterans of World War II and their contributions to democracy. Our goal is to inspire new generations to embody the Nisei veterans’ core values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism. Founded in 1989, GFBNEC maintains the Go For Broke Monument and the interactive “GFBNEC’s Defining Courage Exhibition” in downtown Los Angeles, as well as extensive oral histories and archives, education and training programs, and other initiatives. For more information, please visit https://www.goforbroke.org.
About the NPS JACS Program
This project is funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Site Grant Program. For more information regarding the JCAS grant program, please contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, NPS, at 303/969-2885.