The 2015 Los Angeles Day of Remembrance program will be held on Saturday, Feb. 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. (at First Street) in Little Tokyo.

Mike Murase at a rally against police brutality in 1991.
Mike Murase at a rally against police brutality in 1991.

The DOR continues to be dedicated to commemorating the impact of Executive Order 9066 on the Issei, Nisei and subsequent generations of Japanese Americans. It also seeks to demonstrate how the government’s World War II violations of civil liberties and human rights toward one ethnic group, based solely on race, relates to today’s political and social milieu.

Organizers said that the 2015 program’s theme, “E.O. 9066 and the [In]Justice System Today,” was inspired by both the traditional commemorative nature of the DOR and the current critical issues of how the U.S. justice system continues to harm communities of color with unaccountable police violence, profiling and mass incarceration.

With the recent and ongoing protests sparked by the deaths of unarmed black men, including Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Ezell Ford, through police use of lethal force, and the lack of related indictments, the nation’s attention is turned to the growing concerns of racism, state violence and the failure of political leadership toward African Americans.

Given the Japanese American community’s wartime experiences and the historic connections between the JA and African American communities, the DOR provides an opportunity for the two communities to dialogue. Long-time community activist Mike Murase will join Povi-Tamu Bryant, an L.A.-based organizer in the Black Lives Matter movement, and Rey Fukuda, an Asian/Latino activist, in a conversation about and the Japanese American community’s experiences and the current events impacting the African American community.

Murase works at Little Tokyo Service Center, where he oversees social service programs and the Budokan capital campaign. He was the founding board president of LTSC from 1979 to 1984. He has also worked as a staff attorney with Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, supervising law students representing low-income workers on wage claims.

Povi-Tamu Bryant of Black Lives Matter
Povi-Tamu Bryant of Black Lives Matter

In 1991 — a year before the urban rebellion that erupted after the Rodney King verdict — Murase served as the main organizer of an anti-police brutality demonstration of 4,000 people in front of LAPD headquarters. In the mid-1990s, he played a key role in the community’s efforts to investigate CIA ties to crack cocaine trafficking in South Central L.A.

For 14 years, Murase was the district director for Rep. Maxine Waters. He is a graduate of UCLA and USC Gould School of Law.

Fukuda is an assistant project manager in the East L.A. Community Corporation’s Real Estate Department, focusing on equitable transit-oriented development. He was the former lead community organizer and researcher for the Metro Campaign at ELACC.

Having grown up in six different cities, Fukuda has witnessed and experienced the racist history of urban development. His background influenced his decision to study urban planning and land-use organizing. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in planning at the University of Southern California.

As a volunteer, Fukuda supports Dignity and Power Now and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles as an Asian and Latino ally.

Asian/Latino activist Rey Fukuda
Asian/Latino activist Rey Fukuda

Bryant, a self-described “black queer womyn,” is committed to working with folks to bring an intersectional understanding to the ways we build, live and interact with each other. It is through that commitment that she connected with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. She has spent the past several years facilitating and building curriculum on power, privilege and oppression and solidarity-building for Leadership Development in Intergroup Relations.

Participating as emcees are Helen Ota, director of development and marketing at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, and Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks, assistant professor of Asian Pacific American Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

DOR sponsors include the Japanese American Citizens League/Pacific Southwest District, Japanese American National Museum, Manzanar Committee, and Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress.

For additional information, contact NCRR at (213) 284-0336 or JACL/PSW at (213) 626-4471.

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