By Roberta Barton, CCDC Governor
Looking back on 2017, I am proud of what was accomplished by the Central California District Council, and I am especially grateful for my fellow board colleagues. CCDC board members, representing smaller but mighty chapters, continue to “give their all” in terms of time, talent and enthusiasm. Most of our board are longtime officers and JACL members who always step up to the proverbial plate when asked to do so even when the additional time given to JACL takes away precious time from their own retirement, families and personal lives. They are my role models in JACL, and I’m sure they have inspired others to more JACL service.
The year started off with an amazing Day of Remembrance event in partnership with California State University, Fresno, and its Henry Madden Library. In observance of the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 in 2017, the Madden Library hosted several powerful events and exhibits.
Activities kicked off with a community reception co-sponsored by the CCDC and other partners to celebrate the opening of “9066: Japanese American Voices From the Inside,” a series of multiple ongoing exhibits throughout the Madden Library from February-April.
Interest in the exhibits was so huge that the reception had to be moved from the library to the gym to accommodate the more than 500 guests in attendance! Many exhibits featured artifacts collected from local internees and their families to spotlight the local story of Japanese American incarceration. I was honored to share my mother’s incarceration journey from the coast of Monterey to the Central Valley and then to Poston as one of the family profile storyboards displayed in the library’s Special Collections area.
The diversity of exhibits was truly impressive, including “Art of Survival: Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake,” “The Tag Project” by Wendy Maruyama, “Connecting the Pieces: Dialogues on the Amache Archaeology,” Robert Ogata’s drawings of the Gila concentration camp, artworks by Reiko Fujii, Judy Shintani and Patricia Wakida, poetry by Violet Kazue de Cristoforo, architectural renderings of an imagined Fresno Assembly Center and a special section on the World War II military contributions of Japanese Americans from the Go for Broke National Education Center.
The Day of Remembrance was a hard act to follow, but our dedicated CCDC board managed to keep the energy going throughout 2017. Our annual local scholarship program was very successful, as we had the best and brightest Central Valley students recognized by the district.
CCDC also completed the second year of a three-year rotation reviewing applications for the national JACL scholarship program. The accomplishments, talent and hard work of these young leaders never ceases to impress me.
Summer time was busy with birthday celebrations for our Nisei seniors and, of course, the JACL National Convention. It had been a few years since CCDC had an active youth rep to attend convention. However, we were fortunate to send not one, but two youth, in 2017. Feedback from other NY/SC members confirmed that our youth, Kelly Aoki and Jenna Aoki, are awesome! They learned quite a lot at convention, but they also contributed by participating 200 percent in convention activities and being actively engaged in shaping the future of JACL.
As 2017 edged closer to its end, CCDC continued to engage its membership and educate its community by working with the Central California Nikkei Foundation and Vintage Gardens Senior Center to co-sponsor an excursion to the new Go for Broke National Education Center and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
October is county fair time in the Central Valley. In conjunction with the Fresno Assembly Center Memorial and the “Japanese Americans in the San Joaquin Valley” exhibit in the Fresno County Historical Museum, located at the fairgrounds, CCDC updated its Remembrance Trail brochure to encourage fair goers to learn more about incarceration at the two sites and other related sites in Fresno County.
So, we come to the start of a new year. Let us continue the important work that exemplifies the mission and vision of JACL.