Left photo: Nisei students Helen Nakamoto Mihara (left) and Mary Ann Yahiro (center), both 7, recite the Pledge of Allegiance at Raphael Weill School in San Francisco in April 1942, shortly before they were interned. (Photo by Dorothea Lange/National Archives) Right photo: Yahiro and Mihara, both 72, in January 2007. (Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr., c 2012)

SAN BRUNO — The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District is hosting a reception to recognize a historic event that occurred at a BART station site and to share a photographic exhibit during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May).

The reception will be held on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on the Concourse Level of the San Bruno BART Station, 1151 Huntington Ave.

San Bruno was the site of the Tanforan Racetrack, which was converted into an assembly center when Japanese Americans on the West Coast were rounded up and incarcerated in 1942. The site has been turned into a shopping mall, with a plaque and garden commemorating the assembly center.

The exhibit, “They Wore Their Best: The Japanese American Evacuation and After,” will feature photographs by Dorothea Lange, who chronicled the internment, and award-winning photojournalist Paul Kitagaki Jr. of the Sacramento Bee.

Kitagaki’s father, aunt and grandparents were among the thousands of Bay Area Nikkei who were held at Tanforan before being moved to the Topaz, Utah camp run by the War Relocation Authority. His family was photographed by Lange as they waited at a departure point in Oakland. Since 2005, Kitagaki has been tracking down people who appear in Lange’s photographs and taking new pictures of them or their descendants.

Lange, best known for her portraits of migrant farm workers during the Great Depression, was hired by the WRA to document camp life. Many of her images were impounded by the government because they did not depict the internment in a positive light, and were discovered years later in the National Archives.

RSVP by calling (510) 464-6172 or emailing mburke@bart.gov.

For more information on Kitagaki’s project, click here.

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  1. I wrote & recited an acrostic for Richmond/El Cerrito’s historic remembrance. May I send my poem to you?