Not a lot of people know that during World War II, Santa Anita Park housed approximately 20,000 Japanese Americans. Find out more about it from a short video produced by ESPN and some Japanese Americans that were there.

On Saturday, March 31, at 2 p.m., as part of its Art, Culture & Identity series, the Japanese American National Museum will host a panel discussion led by ESPN producer Jose Morales, who will speak about his documentary “Outside the Lines.” The story of Santa Anita was nominated for an Emmy Award for best short documentary.

Morales has said that he and so many others at ESPN headquarters did not about the incarceration of Japanese Americans at Santa Anita, one of several “assembly centers” set up on the West Coast, often at racetracks and fairgrounds.

Most of the Little Tokyo merchants and residents were bused to Santa Anita in Ma 1942. Little Tokyo became a ghost town; businesses had to close their doors within a week, leaving inventory, machinery and everything else behind. It was reported that after the “evacuation,” cats could be seen wandering around the stores and restaurants, looking for food from the owners who used to feed them.

Some of the surviving Santa Anita internees, including Min Tonai, Babe Karasawa and Yas Aochi, are expected to take part in a panel discussion and answer questions from the audience.

The program will be held in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum, located across the courtyard from the main JANM building at First and Central in Little Tokyo. For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit

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