FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 8, 2024
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JANM to Dedicate Norman Y. Mineta Democracy Plaza on January 26, 2024
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will name its historic plaza after the late Secretary Norman Y. Mineta (1931–2022). JANM will host the dedication ceremony for the Norman Y. Mineta Democracy Plaza at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 26, 2024. JANM is proud to commemorate Secretary Mineta’s extraordinary legacy, his lifelong commitment to democracy, and his profound impact on the Museum.
“Norm’s leadership, generosity, diplomacy, patriotism, and dedication to civil rights inspired the community to invest in the Museum’s vision as a place that would preserve Japanese American history and culture and America’s democratic ideals for generations to come,” said Ann Burroughs, JANM President and CEO. “By naming the plaza in his honor, JANM brings his vision for democracy to future generations so that people of all ages and diverse backgrounds are able to understand how his life's work affects their present lives and the evolving state of democracy. The plaza is hallowed ground, one of the ground zero points in the civil rights history of this country. It is the bridge that connects the past with the present and the future. There is no more fitting way for us to honor Norm’s profound impact on JANM and his lifelong commitment to democracy than to name our plaza for him.”
The Norman Y. Mineta Democracy Plaza connects JANM’s Pavilion, the Historic Building, and the Daniel K. Inouye National Center for the Preservation of Democracy together, creating a dynamic and inclusive campus that reflects the history, culture, and growth of the Japanese American community and Little Tokyo neighborhood. Once a through street, the Norman Y. Mineta Democracy Plaza was a site of forced removal for Americans of Japanese ancestry living in the area. Today it is a site of conscience, community, civic engagement, and social justice.
Secretary Norman Y. 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.
Following the dedication, JANM will present the inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Distinguished Lecture from 5 p.m.–6:30 p.m. The Norman Y. Mineta Distinguished Lecture Series, a signature series of the Democracy Center, is centered on the leadership values and principles inspired by Secretary Mineta, including his commitment to public service, social justice, and to strengthening US-Japan relations. The plaza dedication ceremony and lecture are free and open to the public. Details to be announced at janm.org/democracy.
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 janm.org or follow us on social media @jamuseum.
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.