JANM President and CEO Greg Kimura and interfaith leaders spoke at an anti-Islamophobia rally in Little Tokyo last month. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

“Is It 1942 Again? Overcoming Our Fears and Upholding Constitutional Rights for All” is the theme of the 2016 Los Angeles Day of Remembrance program, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 20. from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.

This year’s theme recognizes the importance of addressing the recent upsurge in anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment spurred by the terrorist events in Paris and San Bernardino and exacerbated by public leaders calling for actions that scapegoat Muslim Americans and refugees, similar to what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II.

“Given the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and having been the target of rampant racism, Japanese Americans have a unique legacy and an urgent responsibility to recall and share the devastating effects and long-term impacts of such treatment,” stated Kay Ochi, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress co-chair and DOR committee member.

“We must support other targeted communities. Had our community been supported by other groups during World War II, the course of history and the lives of over 110,000 Japanese Americans may have been spared tremendous hardship.”

Although some neighbors and friends showed support to Japanese Americans, the only national organization that defended Japanese Americans and openly opposed the exclusion and incarceration was the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The AFSC will be celebrating its centennial in 2017 and will be acknowledged at this year’s DOR program.

“The unlawful incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II was a shameful chapter in the history of the United States, one for which the government itself apologized. To view it otherwise, or to believe that such action should be emulated today with regard to those who follow Islam, is a tragic mistake,” said Greg Kimura, president and CEO of the Japanese American National Museum.

“I’m proud that our annual Day of Remembrance will draw upon the Japanese American experience to remind people of what it means to live in a democracy, and that we will stand in solidarity with a group of citizens who are entitled to their civil rights and civil liberties.”

“In order to move towards a nation where the Bill of Rights and Constitution apply to everyone, it’s necessary to start within our own community. The DOR committee urges everyone to attend the program and bring those who may benefit from both the traditional commemoration of Executive Order 9066 and hearing from our friends in the American Muslim and Syrian refugee communities,” added Ochi.

The sponsoring organizations of the 2016 Los Angeles Day of Remembrance (and their respective DOR committee members) include: the Manzanar Committee (Bruce Embrey); Japanese American Citizens League, Pacific Southwest District (traci ishigo, Stephanie Nitahara); JANM (Elizabeth Lim, Mark Robbins, and Koji Sakai); NCRR (Richard Katsuda, Suzy Katsuda, and Kay Ochi).

A reception catered by Carrie Morita’s Community Catering will follow the program.

For further information, contact JANM at (213) 625-0414.

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