A Smithsonian poster exhibition “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II,” examines the complicated history and impact of Executive Order 9066 that led to the incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were seventy-five years ago, “Righting a Wrong” looks at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism, and what it means to be an American. The posters engage the public with eight core questions that encourage a dialogue about how our society and government let this happen, and how this could happen again. There will be an interactive portion of the exhibition which will invite viewers to share their own answers to these questions.
The exhibit was developed by the National Museum of American History and adapted by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The traveling exhibition and poster exhibition are supported by a grant from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Terasaki Family Foundation, and C. L. Ehn & Ginger Lew.
Also included is the film, Dave Tatsuno: Movies and Memories (60 min.). The filmmaker is Dave Tatsuno, a Japanese American who made the film while incarcerated with his family at the Topaz Relocation Center. The Tatsunos were imprisoned for three years behind barbed wire and Dave Tatsuno captured this with his clandestine 8mm camera. The film is the only full color movie documenting the experiences of interned Japanese Americans during World War II. In 1996 the film was given to the Library of Congress and is one of only two home movies of the Library’s National Film Registry. The film is on loan to the Museum from Dave Tatsuno’s son, Rod Tatsuno.
“Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II,” is one part of The Community Library Winter Read 2020 programing that occurred throughout February and March. The Community Library Winter Read 2020 invites our community to read a book together and engage in conversation about a critical historical and regional civil liberty topic. This year’s book is Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a novel centering on Japanese American families who were incarcerated during World War II.