By January 27, 2015No Comments

By Priscilla Ouchida, National Director

Two thousand and fifteen is already shaping up to be a promising year that will set the stage for 2016 and 2017.

I started the year with a meeting with the Smithsonian National Museum on American History about a 2017 exhibit commemorating the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. The exhibit is scheduled to open on Feb. 19, 2017, for a 10-month run and will contain objects from the “More Perfect Union” exhibit mounted in 1987.

JACL will work with the Smithsonian to create an exhibit that explores a period when racial prejudice and fear upset the delicate balance between the rights of the citizen and the power of the state.

The story will be about Japanese Americans who suffered a great injustice at the hands of the government and who have struggled ever since to ensure the rights of all citizens guaranteed by the Constitution.

Through Executive Order 9066, the exhibit will look at how the document changed and reshaped the history of Japanese Americans in the United States and brought about changes in how we look back at that time and event in history, and its relevance to today, particularly after the 9/11 attacks.

What a powerful start to a year that will elevate JACL! Two thousand and fifteen will also be a year of education, historic milestones and commitment to an organization that will use its rich history to address contemporary issues.

On Feb. 3, JACL will kick off the opening of the Art of Gaman Exhibit at the Holocaust Museum Houston in Texas. Supplementing the exhibit, JACL will hold a teacher training workshop funded through a National Parks Service JACS grant.

On Feb. 19, JACL will partner with the Smithsonian on a Day of Remembrance program at the National Museum on American History.

On March 8, JACL will return to Selma and participate in the 50th anniversary of the crossing of the Pettus Bridge. In 1965, JACL was in Alabama in support of voting rights, and we will continue to push for passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act.

Bridging Communities, a multicultural program for high school students that explores the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, begins on March 14 in Chicago. And a new class of JACL leaders will travel to Washington, D.C., on March 21 for the JACL-OCA D.C. Leadership Seminar.

That is just the first quarter of the year.

The need for civic engagement will increase. The 114th Congressional Session, which includes three new AAPI congressional representatives, will continue the battle over immigration reform, voting rights and data disaggregation.

There will be challenges to the Affordable Care Act and to the President’s Executive Order expanding DACA and providing limited protection to undocumented parents of American children.

Pursuant to resolutions adopted at the San Jose National Convention in July 2014, JACL is pushing the White House to bestow the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom on Min Yasui and Mitsuye Endo.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases that challenge the civil rights advances of 50 years ago, such as Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project(ITAL), which seeks a determination on whether policies that have a disparate impact on communities of color are a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

In addition, JACL will continue to be a strong advocate for the establishment of Hawaii’s Honouliuli as a national park site.

It is always the right time to thank our members. We couldn’t do many programs without the support of members like Grace Kanda of Auburn, Wash., who made a large donation to JACL, or Donna Cole and George and Darlene Hirasaki of Houston, Texas, who contributed to the Art of Gaman Exhibit.

There are still curtains that are waiting to be opened this year for a big reveal. I am on pins and needles about 2015. It is a great year to be a member of JACL.