This is a milestone year for me and Densho. Not only did I turn 60 years old, but it also marks 20 years since the beginnings of Densho when I learned how to do an oral history interview and excitedly prototyped a Windows 95 computer to display a few video interviews and a dozen historic photographs to demonstrate what Densho might look like in the future. I delighted in showing people how technology made it easy to find and view this multimedia content, with one UW professor calling the demo “magic.” But the real magic, I remember thinking, was going to happen when people around the world would be able to search, watch, and learn from hundreds of interviews about what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II.
After 20 years, 900 Densho interviews, and a million worldwide visitors to our website, I now realize the real magic is in our community and the stories they have shared. Please join us on September 24th as we celebrate these stories and our community. We will acknowledge the men and women who graciously opened their homes and allowed Densho to record their oral histories. And we will honor the community that has supported our work at each step along the way.
In addition to celebrating our past twenty years, we will preview what's in store for the next twenty. While we continue the necessary work of documenting Japanese American history, we have also increasingly taken on a social justice mission, drawing comparisons with what happened to a targeted minority group during World War II with the fear, racism, and bigotry we see today. Our dinner speaker, Dale Minami, is one of my personal heroes who will connect his groundbreaking work of getting justice for Fred Korematsu with the need for justice today.
Proceeds from this dinner will broaden our education efforts with students and teachers and increase our outreach efforts with public events, social media, online courses, and our nationally acclaimed website. Each dinner registration makes a difference, as the proceeds from just one ticket are enough to train one teacher who will reach dozens of students each year.
My hope is that you will be inspired to attend. Below are some details for the event. It would mean a lot to me, Densho, teachers, and students if you support this effort! If you are unable to attend the event but still want to contribute, you can contribute online or mail us a donation at Densho, 1416 S. Jackson, Seattle, WA 98144.