$10 General Admission / FREE for JANM & JACL Members
In this virtual program, Susan H. Kamei will discuss her new book, When Can We Go Back to America?: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration during WWII, and the lessons that she hopes readers of all ages will take from it. She will be joined in conversation by William A. Darity Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, and A. Kirsten Mullen, writer, folklorist, museum consultant, and lecturer.
About the book
In what Secretary Norman Y. Mineta describes as a “landmark book,” he and others who lived through the harrowing experience of America’s concentration camps tell the story of their incarceration and the long-term impact of this dark period in American history. Kamei, a lawyer instrumental in achieving redress for those incarcerated following Executive Order 9066, seamlessly combines dozens of personal narratives with detailed historical research.
These stories, drawn mostly from works in the public domain, are presented in this volume that covers the bombing of Pearl Harbor through to the redress movement, the 1983 congressional commission findings, and former President Donald Trump’s 2017 executive orders restricting travel from many predominantly Muslim countries. The author provides a framework for understanding the lead-up to the decision to intern so-called enemy aliens, along with about 72,000 American citizens of Japanese descent. From there, she shares their harrowing journey to barren desert camps, the harsh realities of life behind barbed-wire fences, and their eventual release during a time when anti-Japanese sentiments still ran high. The use of direct quotes from internees—many of them children and young adults—adds remarkable emotional weight. Many lives were ruined as people’s dreams and life goals were crushed, and readers will viscerally connect with their endurance and marvel at how many still maintained faith in the democratic system. The message of awareness of this past injustice and its connection to standing in solidarity with others who face injustice is a compelling theme of this riveting and indispensable work. This landmark historical account shines a light on a part of American history that must be remembered.
When Can We Go Back to America?: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration during WWII will be available in the JANM Store starting September 7.
This program is presented in partnership with the Japanese American Citizens League and the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University and is presented by JANM's National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.
General audience and JANM Members should register through the ticketing link above. JACL members should email email@example.com with the subject line "JACL tickets - When Can We Go Back to America?" to receive FREE admission to the program. Zoom information will be sent directly to all who register.