Fresno State celebrated the opening of an exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of the placement of Japanese Americans in internment camps with a ceremony before a packed house Sunday afternoon.
“9066: Japanese American Voices from the Inside” will run in the university’s Henry Madden Library through April 30. It commemorates the executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizing the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast in 1942.
Sunday’s ceremonoy in Fresno State’s North Gym started with a kyoto performance and haiku reading. Guests were served Japanese dishes. The gym was filled to capacity and some attendees waited outside for seats to open up.
The Distinguished American Award for the Spirit of Compassion was handed out to the Walter E. Pollock family for its donation to the Madden Library of historical documents related to the Fresno internment camp.
Peter McDonald, the dean of library services at Fresno State, put together a haiku reading involving several Japanese Americans in the community, and including Sudarshan Kapoor, a Fresno state professor and activist.
McDonald likened the internment camps to what he says is a similar issue the nation faces today: “Now there’s talk about rounding up Muslims” similar to the Japanese American internment, McDonald said, adding that Americans must give kindness and compassion wherever they can.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Dale Ikeda, on the eve of his retirement, hosted the event. “We are here to honor those who were wrongfully incarcerated during World War II,” he said.
Reza Nekumanesh, director of the Islamic Cultural Center in Fresno and part of Faith in Fresno, attended. “Japanese Americans suffered a great evil at the hand of our country just 75 years ago,” Nekumanesh said.
“The Japanese American community was the first to stand with the Sikh community after 9/11, saying no way will another group of Americans be detained or have to register on the base of your religion because we know what it means to suffer that fate from the hands of this country.”
The Bee’s Marc Benjamin and John Walker chronicled the memories and more to mark the 75th anniversary of the Japanese American internment order. The special report published in the Feb. 12 Bee.
‘9066: Japanese American Voices from the Inside’
Through April 30
Henry Madden Library, Fresno State
Library hours: Monday-Thursday, 7:45 a.m.-midnight; Friday, 7:45 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-midnight
Closed: Feb. 20, March 31, April 8-9, April 15-16, reduced hours on April 10-14
Parking: $3 weekdays, free on weekends