2019 Manzanar At Dusk participants, shown here in one of the small group discussions. (Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee)

Connecting the injustices of the past with similar injustices of the present will be the focus of the 2023 Manzanar At Dusk program, sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 S. Main St. (U.S. Highway 395), in Lone Pine, across the street from McDonald’s.

Manzanar At Dusk follows the 54th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, held that same day at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles. Cultural performances begin at 11:30 a.m. while the main program begins at noon.

Now in its 25th year, Manzanar At Dusk is co-sponsored by the Nikkei Student Unions at Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, UCLA, UC Riverside and UC San Diego.

Through a creative presentation, small group discussions, and an open mic session, participants will have the opportunity to interact with former incarcerees in attendance and others to hear their personal stories. Participants will also be able to share their own experiences and discuss the relevance of the Japanese American Incarceration experience to present-day issues.

“The past two years, we held the Manzanar At Dusk program online via Zoom, which gave everyone the opportunity to connect and have conversations with people from around the world,” said the Manzanar Committee’s Jason Fujii, coordinator of Manzanar At Dusk. “But I’m excited to have Manzanar At Dusk live and in-person once again. The importance of having in-person, face-to-face discussions, and truly connecting people from different communities and generations is what makes Manzanar At Dusk truly special.

“Our student organizers have been working for almost six months to put together a program that hopes to educate and connect everyone in attendance. The Manzanaar At Dusk program, while focusing on the Japanese American incarceration, gives everyone the opportunity to share their story. We hope that everyone will leave the event having learned something that they would like to bring back to their own communities.”

Manzanar At Dusk has always been a way for student organizers to honor their past and to educate others.

“Manzanar At Dusk is important as it brings to light the injustice served upon the Japanese American community, and is a tool for other communities to learn about Japanese American history,” said Nao Maeshiro of the CSUF Nikkei Student Union. “It is a way for our generation to honor and show respect for our past while we move forward in growing our community.”

Student organizers also stressed the importannce of providing a safe, welcoming setting for important dialogue and sharing.

“We think that Manzanar At Dusk is important because it’s a safe place where everyone, regardless of background, is able to reflect upon a part of history that should never be repeated,” said Yuiko Tahara of the Nikkei Student Union at UCLA. “While learning about Japanese American history is important, we think that actively discussing it in the context of present issues is more effective in helping people understand the importance of remembering the history.”

Students are not working only on presentatations to be made during the event, but also on the small group discussions, which are often the most impactful part of Manzanar At Dusk.

“We get to plan and participate in small group discussions where we are able to open up and share with others what we learned in the annual Katari program about the importance of keeping Japanese American stories alive, not only for personal reasons, but also for fueling our activism,” said Ally Yamashita of the Nikkei Student Union at UCLA.

Water will be provided during the event. However, those attending the program are asked to bring a refillable water bottle that can be filled on-site.

Both Manzanar At Dusk and the Manzanar Pilgrimage are free and open to the public. For more information, call (323) 662-5102 or email info@manzanarcommittee.org.

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