HAYWARD — Hayward Public Library, in partnership with the Hayward Arts Council and the Eden Township Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, will sponsor a Zoom-based event in honor of the Day of Remembrance on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 4 p.m. The event is free, but pre-registration is required.

Patricia Wakida

Day of Remembrance is an annual event in observance of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, forcibly removed all Americans of Japanese ancestry off the West Coast.

On May 8, 1942, 600 Japanese Americans from the Hayward, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo areas were forced to leave their homes and board buses lined up on Watkins Street, and then taken to the Tanforan detention center in San Bruno and later, to the Topaz camp in Delta, Utah.

In October 2020, the Hayward Heritage Plaza Japanese American Art Project Team issued a national call for applications for artwork to accompany a historical marker that will be installed at the Heritage Plaza, located at Watkins and C streets, across the street from the Downtown Library.

The event will feature speakers, including East Bay artist and historian Patricia Wakida, who was selected to design the commissioned work of art.

“Art has long played a vital role in advocacy for change and justice,” said Wakida. “This project is an empowering opportunity to embed visual storytelling of the Hayward and Eden Japanese Americans’ WWII experiences into artwork that will resonate for all viewers.”

The design and construction of the artwork will include the 600 names of the Hayward-area Japanese Americans who were detained and then incarcerated.

Wakida added, “As a fourth-generation Japanese American (Yonsei), I strive to make my ancestors proud!”

Hayward Heritage Plaza Japanese American Art Project Team Leader Robbin Kawabata expressed her gratitude to the City of Hayward for “allotting the funds and the support of the creation of the artwork to honor Hayward’s multiethnic citizens and their history, and celebrate its complex diversity.”

The project goals, as Kawabata explained, include “honoring the area’s past and present Japanese American community, communicating the significance of the site, and preserving an often-neglected history of wartime incarceration.”

Another featured speaker at the Day of Remembrance event will be Hayward Arts Council Executive Director Winda Shimizu, who served as a member of the Heritage Plaza Japanese American Art Project Team. Shimizu thanked Hayward Public Library for highlighting a historically important event in American history that “must never be forgotten.”

Speaking of Wakida’s design for the Heritage Plaza work of art, Shimizu said it will “reflect the hardships and resilience of local Japanese Americans, and will encourage civic engagement, empathy, and cultural awareness necessary for a healthy and robust community.”

“Hayward Public Library has convened an amazing panel of speakers in honor of the Day of Remembrance and we hope many will join us at the event,” said Library Director Jayanti Addleman. “By reflecting on a dark time in our history and on the impact of the internment of Japanese American residents during World War II, we must learn from the past so we can have greater hope for the future.”

To register for the Feb. 27th Zoom event, visit http://tinyurl.com/Remember2021.

To find out about other events hosted by Hayward Public Library, go to https://hayward.librarycalendar.com/ or call (510) 881-7980.

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