Portland to March for Civil Rights Hero – Minoru Yasui

Minoru “Min” YasuiOn the evening of March 28, 1942, Minoru “Min” Yasui, deliberately violated the racially discriminatory curfew against Japanese Americans to test its constitutionality, walking on NW 3rd Avenue in downtown Portland. Min’s lifelong fight for justice and equality led to his recognition as the first Oregonian to be awarded (posthumously) the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

At the age of twenty-six, Yasui put his professional career and his personal liberty on the line for justice. He spent 9 months in solitary confinement at the Multnomah County Jail as he appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was released from jail in 1943, only to be sent to the Minidoka American concentration camp in Idaho. More 

Join us to retrace Min’s historic walk for social justice on March 28th 

Please join us on Monday, March 28, as we retrace Min’s historic walk from his law office in the Foster Hotel in Old Town, to the former site of Police Headquarters on SW 2nd Avenue and Oak Street. Gather at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center (121 NW 2nd Avenue Portland Ore 97209 map) at 4:30 pm for the short 6 block walk followed by a program in the foyer and reception in the offices of Stoll Berne at SW Second Avenue and Oak Street. Download flyer 389KB pdf

Yasui was awarded the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the country. The Oregon Senate and House unanimously recently passed a historic bill designating March 28 of each year as Minoru Yasui Day. More from the Min Yasui Tribute Project

Never Give Up! – Trailer from Minoru Yasui Film on Vimeo.

Minoru Yasui was born 100 years ago in 1916 in Hood River, Oregon, son of Japanese immigrant parents. He was the first Japanese American to graduate from the University of Oregon School of Law, and the first Japanese American member of the Oregon State Bar.

After the war, he moved to Denver, Colorado, where he continued to fight for human and civil rights of all people. In the 1970s-80s, he spearheaded the national movement for redress: an official apology and reparations for Japanese Americans imprisoned in the World War II camps.

In 1983, he returned to Portland to reopen his wartime case in the U.S. District Court of Oregon. While his conviction was vacated, the court denied his request for an evidentiary hearing, which he appealed. His case was pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when he died in 1986. Minoru Yasui is buried in his beloved hometown of Hood River, Oregon.

Image credit: Holly Yasui / Oregon Encyclopedia link 

Uprooted: Russell Lee FSA Photo Exhibit

Uprooted from Uprooted Exhibit on Vimeo.

During the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans, some 33,000 Nikkei left concentration camps to work as seasonal farm laborers, often in the sugar beet industry. UPROOTED introduces their story. This traveling exhibit features a selection of images from federal photographer Russell Lee’s documentation of farm labor camps in Oregon and Idaho. Through Lee’s photographs, new research, and firsthand accounts from farm laborers themselves, the exhibit uncovers the rarely told story of life in the camps.

Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center
February 11th to June 19th. 
121 NW 2nd Ave. Portland, OR 97209

Uprooted Exhibit 07

The Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission is proud to present Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II. The exhibit features a selection of photographs from Russell Lee’s documentation of Japanese American farm labor camps near the towns of Nyssa, Oregon and Rupert, Shelley, and Twin Falls, Idaho. This is the first time many of these images have been exhibited. As a photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), Lee captured nearly six hundred images of the Nikkei wartime experience. From 1935 to 1944, the FSA’s documentary photography program produced approximately 175,000 black-and-white film negatives and 1,600 color images.

Visitors will learn about Japanese American farm labor camps through Lee’s photographs, interpretative text panels, and a short documentary film featuring firsthand accounts about life in the camps. The exhibit’s website includes additional photographs, historic documents, video clips and transcripts from oral history interviews, and two lesson plans - How to Read Documentary Films and How to Read Documentary Photographs (Note: I developed both lessons).

Uprooted Exhibit 05

This exhibit was supported by grants from the National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Preservation Program; the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Fred W. Fields Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation; the Malheur County Cultural Trust; and the Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust.

Farm Labor ad from the Minidoka Irrigator (camp newspaper)For more information on this project please contact the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. For questions regarding the JACS grant program, please contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, NPS, at 303-969-2885.

Click ad on left to enlarge  For more photos see Uprooted Photo Gallery 

Men on truck: Many of the single men and families came to the Rupert, Idaho camp from Minidoka, Heart Mountain, Manzanar, and Poston. The seasonal leave program drew a mix of people, some with previous agricultural experience and others without. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-073890-D.

The Ouchida family at the Nyssa, Oregon farm labor camp, pictured clockwise from the lower left: Jack, Shizuko, Henry, Thomas, Kiuda, Shizuyo, Mary, and Rosie. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-073354-D.

Newspaper Ad “You don’t need to wait any longer to get out.” From the Minidoka Irrigator.
Sugar companies posted recruitment notices and advertisements in public spaces throughout the camps, as well as in camp newspapers. Such advertisements emphasized seasonal labor as an opportunity to leave confines of camp, but also marketed the work as the patriotic duty of Japanese Americans, ignoring that they had been incarcerated and denied their civil liberties.
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., Record Group 210, War Relocation Authority.
 

Photo Exhibit Locates Subjects of WWII Images

Pledge of Allegiance: Hideno Nakamoto and Yoko Itashiki at age 7 and at 72 Pledge of Allegiance: Hideno Nakamoto and Yoko Itashiki at age 7 and at 72

There is a powerful new exhibit at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center Museum in Old Town Portland Ore. (121 NW 2nd Ave Portland, OR 97209)

“Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit” Open through January 17, 2016.

In this all new traveling exhibit, historic images shot in 1942 by War Relocation Authority staff photographers Dorothea Lange, Tom Parker, and others are juxtaposed with contemporary images of the same individuals taken by Sacramento Bee photojournalist Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

The Story Behind the Exhibit by Paul Kitagaki Jr. on Vimeo.

Kitagaki writes:
In the late 1970s, as I started on my path as a photographer, my uncle, Nobuo Kitagaki, an artist in San Francisco, told me that Dorothea Lange had photographed my grandparents, father and aunt in 1942 as they awaited a bus in Oakland, Calif., to begin their journey into detention. Several years later, while looking through hundreds of Lange’s photographs at the National Archives in Washington D.C., I found her original images of my family.

As I examined Lange’s work I realized that every photograph represented an untold story that was quietly buried in the past. I had many questions and few answers. Most importantly, I wanted to know how Executive Order 9066 forever changed the lives of these internees who unjustly lost their homes, businesses and, sometimes, their families.

In 2005 I began searching for the identities of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans whose images of forced relocation were captured by Lange and the other War Relocation Authority photographers, including Clem Albers, Tom Parker and Francis Stewart. It’s a complicated and difficult task, as most of the photographs did not identify incarcerated subjects. During the past eight years I’ve photographed 25 of the original subjects, or their direct descendants, living in California, Oregon and Washington. Recently I’ve located 10 more subjects who need to be photographed. As each year passes we are losing the last Nisei generation along with their untold stories. More

Incarcerated at Heart Mountain: Three Boy Scouts Honor the American Flag (1943 and today) Incarcerated at Heart Mountain: Three Boy Scouts Honor the American Flag (1943 and today)

A Q&A with Paul Kitagaki, Jr. “Photography, Family History, and the Search for Missing Incarcerees” from Densho Blog

Kitagaki’s “Help Find Missing Internees” photo gallery.

How to Embed Literacy Skills in Historical Thinking

The_Magdalen_Reading_-_Rogier_van_der_WeydenSoon I’ll be giving workshops demonstrating how to integrate literacy skills for close reading with historical thinking skills. Here’s a preview.

What do we mean by historical thinking?  It’s the historian’s version of critical thinking: 

  • Examine and analyze primary sources – who created it, when, for what purpose?
  • Understand historical context. Compare multiple accounts and perspectives.
  • Take a position and defend it with evidence.

What do we mean by close reading? Teachers can guide students with scaffolding questions that explore “texts” (in all their forms).

  • Key Ideas and Details:
 What does the text say? Identify the key ideas. What claims does the author make? What evidence does the author use to support those claims?
  • Craft and Structure:
 Who created the document? What’s their point of view / purpose? How did the text say it? How does it reflect its historic time period?
  • Integration of Knowledge and ideas: 
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text. Recognize disparities between multiple accounts. Compare text to other media / genres. How does it connect to what we’re learning? 
And what’s it mean to me? 

Let’s look at how a close reading of historical sources for craft and structure can integrate with the historical skill of sourcing  - who created it, when, for what purpose?

Here’s a great illustration of historical sourcing from Stanford History Education Group’s Beyond the Bubble.

And here’s an exercise I used with teachers at a workshop this past summer. Here’s the instructions they were given:

  1. Create and post a source comparison. Be sure to include: Historical question and two sample sources. 
  2. Once other workshop members have posted their source comparison questions, use their content to answer the question: “Which do you trust more? Why?”
  3. Feel free to add multiple answers to the same question and / or comment on each others question / or answer. It’s a dialogue.

Here’s a Google doc with my prompts and teacher responses. 

[iframe width=”100%” height=”480″ src=”https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CIOEc-twBQuKnhEYJSe1Mc6Lz_Sn9MZ2HNajjREyscw/pub?embedded=true”]

Image Source: Rogier van der Weyden, Detail from The Magdalen Reading, c. 1435–1438. National Gallery, London

How to Find Primary Source Documents

Main Reading RoomThe Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 160 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. Much of the collection is being assembled into a digital library of reproductions of primary source materials to support the study of the history and culture of the United States. Finding online documents can a challenge, so I put together a 12-min video of three search strategies that I find effective – locating curated content, using the native LOC search tools and using a search operator. [site:loc.gov]

I developed this video in support of my June workshop “The Student As Historian.” I’ll be teaming up with LOC American Memory Fellow, Marta Turner of NWRESD to offer a workshop this summer for 20 Oregon teachers and librarians (grades 4-12). It’s jointly sponsored by the Library of Congress, the TPS Regional Program & NWRESD.

We’re using Versal to ”flip” a portion of the course so that we can have more time for interaction and design when teachers arrive on June 25 – 26, 2015. More information and our “flipped” pre-course here. The goals of this prep course are for participant teachers to:

  • Introduce themselves to the group.
  • Tour of the LOC site.
  • Have an introduction to using primary sources in the classroom.
  • Have an introduction to historical thinking.
  • Develop some lesson ideas in advance.

FYI – I’ve assembled two collections of other great digital archives:
Best Sites for Primary Documents in World History 
Best Sites for Primary Documents in US History

Image credit: [Main Reading Room. View from above showing researcher desks. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-highsm-11603

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