2014 / Manzanar At Dusk: College-Age Youth Taking Charge, April 26

Manzanar At Dusk 2013 Photo

A diverse crowd, in terms of ethnicity, gender, age and experiences, come together each year at the Manzanar At Dusk program. (Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee)

PILGRIMAGE: Seats still available on bus to 45th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage from Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — College students will once again take the lead role during the 2014 Manzanar At Dusk program, sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, scheduled from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 South Main Street (US Highway 395), in Lone Pine, California, across the street from McDonald’s.

The Manzanar At Dusk program follows the 45th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, scheduled for 12:00 PM that same day, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles.

Manzanar At Dusk is co-sponsored by the Nikkei Student Unions at Cal State Fullerton (CSUF), Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) Cal Poly Pomona, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Through a creative presentation, small group discussions, and an open mic session, participants will have the opportunity to interact with former incarcerees in attendance to hear their personal stories. Participants will also be able to share their own experiences and discuss the relevance of the Japanese American concentration camp experience to present-day issues.

Student organizers began to take the program back to its 1997 roots in 2011, when they resumed their leadership role in organizing the event, and they stressed that Manzanar At Dusk is an event for everyone, not just Japanese Americans, because it deals with issues that affect society as a whole.

“Students my age are so engrossed in college, and all the highs and lows it brings, that we sometimes forget to pay attention to the larger issues the world is facing,” said Julia Teranishi, President, UCSD Nikkei Student Union. “Appreciating a culture, even if it isn’t yours, opens your eyes to the struggles going on around us.”

“My first year attending Manzanar At Dusk, I learned about the unexpected connection between the prejudice American Muslims have faced after 9/11, and the rejection Japanese Americans faced during World War II,” added Teranishi, a 21-year-old Structural Engineering major and a native of Torrance, California. “This will be my third year at the Pilgrimage, but I still anticipate learning more.”

“The Cal Poly Pomona Nikkei Student Union (CPPNSU) is co-sponsoring Manzanar At Dusk, not only to remind the greater Japanese American community of our heritage, and to pay our respects to the memory of our ancestors, but also to educate others on the struggles during World War II and its aftermath,” said Julian Radmilovich, Director of Cultural Affairs, CPPNSU. “We have been given the opportunity to preserve the memory of this piece of history and the stories associated with it, stories that can teach future generations and prevent the same mistakes from being made in the future.”

Organizers stressed that along with the afternoon Manzanar Pilgrimage, Manzanar At Dusk offers participants a unique opportunity to learn about the history and issues surrounding the Japanese American concentration camp experience, not to mention the challenges facing the Manzanar National Historic Site in the future.

“Manzanar At Dusk was started by college students, and we believe that is it important to help continue the tradition so that everyone  will learn from Manzanar,” said William Kojima, President, CSUF Nikkei Student Union. “By doing this we can spread the word about the tragedy that is Internment.”

Both the Manzanar Pilgrimage and the Manzanar At Dusk program will also deal with the current fight to protect Manzanar’s viewshed from being marred forever by large-scale renewable energy development by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, and by Inyo County proposing to open up even more land near Manzanar to such development.

“By being a co-sponsor of Manzanar At Dusk, we have been able to learn about the social, economic and environmental issues that affect Manzanar today,” added Kojima, 22, also from Torrance, California, a Business Administration student.

The primary focus of the student organizers will be sharing stories of those who were incarcerated behind the barbed wire during World War II.

“While stories may die out, they should be kept and passed along as much as possible,” noted Radmilovich, a 21-year-old native of Torrance, California who is studying Mechanical Engineering. “Stories are the in-depth experiences that give us a dynamic understanding of a time or place straight from someone who experienced it. Stories and dialogue about a place keep a full understanding of history alive and well, and while some aspects of these may be lost with time, the remainder can still be a huge asset in order to create a full understanding of another time. This is why Manzanar at Dusk is important.”

“It is important to maintain an understanding of the past, not only for the knowledge we’ve gained, but to better understand any aspect of humanity as well,” added Radmilovich. “Ideally we’d live in a world full of people with fully mastered senses of empathy and we’d all get along, but we don’t. The only thing we have to maintain an understanding of our ancestors and other cultures are historic landmarks. Emotions and feelings and understanding of those feelings can be lost, but landmarks keep their tone for an eternity.”

“This is why Manzanar is important. But looking at a landmark is not the only important aspect of maintaining history. Landmarks can be very linear in their expression of a time or experience, but stories with those landmarks paint a full picture.”

The Manzanar Committee has also announced that limited seats are still available on their bus to the afternoon Pilgrimage program from Los Angeles. For further information, or to make a reservation, call (323) 662-5102, or send e-mail to 45thpilgrimage@manzanarcommittee.org. The non-refundable fare is $40.00 per seat, $30.00 for students and seniors. Complimentary fares are available for those who were incarcerated at any of the former American concentration camps or other confinement sites during World War II.

Those wishing to attend the Manzanar At Dusk program should make other transportation arrangements.

Both the daytime Pilgrimage program and the Manzanar At Dusk event are free and open to the public.

For more information, check the Manzanar Committee’s official blog at http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org, call (323) 662-5102, or send e-mail to 45thpilgrimage@manzanarcommittee.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Committee on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ManzanarCommittee) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/manzanarcomm).

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The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site.