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JANM’s Democracy Center Launches Inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Distinguished Lecture Series on January 26, 2024

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will present the inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Distinguished Lecture with guest speaker Mitch Landrieu, former mayor of New Orleans, at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 26, 2024, at JANM’s Daniel K. Inouye National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (Democracy Center). The talk launches the Norman Y. Mineta Distinguished Lecture Series, a signature series of the Democracy Center that focuses on the leadership values and principles inspired by Secretary Mineta, including his commitment to public service, social justice, and to strengthening US-Japan relations. Tickets to the lecture are free and open to the public. Reservations are required and are available at 

Secretary Mineta served on JANM’s board of governors from 1988 to 1995 and was the chair of the board of governors from 2010 to 2015. A trustee since 1996, he was the chair of the board of trustees from 2015 until his passing in May 2022. He and his family were forcibly removed from their home in San José, California, and incarcerated along with 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry for the duration of World War II. The family was initially held at the Santa Anita temporary detention center in Los Angeles, and then at the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming. Secretary Mineta represented his hometown of San José in the House of Representatives for over twenty years. The first Asian American appointed to a Presidential cabinet, he was named Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton in 2000 and was named Secretary of Transportation by President George W. Bush in 2001. He was recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, in 2006. In 2012 he was awarded JANM’s Distinguished Medal of Honor.

“It is our privilege to launch this lecture series in honor of Secretary Mineta. He embodied the best of this nation and never flinched from standing up for justice and democracy. Like Norm before him, Mayor Landrieu has dedicated his life to public service, both guided by the same principles and an implacable belief in the power of democracy,” said Ann Burroughs, JANM President and CEO. 

Mitch Landrieu is former senior advisor to the President and White House infrastructure coordinator. He served as the 61st Mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018, while the city was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and in the midst of the BP Oil Spill. Under Landrieu’s leadership, New Orleans is widely recognized as one of the nation’s great comeback stories. In 2015, Landrieu was named “Public Official of the Year” by Governing, and in 2016 was voted “America’s top turnaround mayor” in a Politico survey of mayors. Landrieu’s decision to take down four Confederate monuments in New Orleans earned him the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He is the author of In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, which recounts his personal journey confronting the issue of race and institutional racism that still plagues America, and in 2018 founded E Pluribus Unum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to build a more equitable and inclusive South.

The lecture will follow a public ceremony naming JANM’s historic plaza in Secretary Mineta’s honor to commemorate his extraordinary legacy, his lifelong commitment to democracy, and his profound impact on the Museum.

The Norman Y. Mineta Distinguished Lecture Series is a signature series of the Democracy Center, focused on the leadership values and principles inspired by the late Secretary Mineta, including his commitment to public service, social justice, and strengthening US-Japan relations. The series will feature national leaders and voices that are creating change and shaping democracy to provoke thought and inspire change in the US. It is one of two Distinguished Lecture Series to be presented by the Democracy Center. The Irene Hirano Inouye Distinguished Lecture Series will launch later this year.


About the Daniel K. Inouye National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (Democracy Center)

The Democracy Center is a place where visitors can examine the Asian American experience, past and present, and talk about race, identity, social justice, and the shaping of democracy. It convenes and educates people of all ages about democracy to transform attitudes, celebrate culture, and promote civic engagement; educates and informs the public and public officials about important issues; creates strength within and among communities to advocate for positive change; and explores the values that shape American democracy. The Democracy Center looks for solutions that engage communities in self-advocacy, explore the evolving idea of what it means to be an American, and result in actions that bring everyone together.

About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

Established in 1985, JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a center for civil rights, ensuring that the hard-fought lessons of the World War II incarceration are not forgotten. A Smithsonian Affiliate and one of America’s Cultural Treasures, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories. JANM is a center for the arts as well as history. It provides a voice for Japanese Americans and a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public in 1992, JANM has presented over 100 exhibitions onsite while traveling 40 exhibits to venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and to several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America. JANM is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday–Sunday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and on Thursday from 12 p.m.–8 p.m. JANM is free every third Thursday of the month. On all other Thursdays, JANM is free from 5 p.m.–8 p.m. For more information, visit or follow us on social media @jamuseum.