January 2018
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
                                Oprah Winfrey, 2018 Golden Globe Awards Speech

The words of Oprah Winfrey – and so many other brave women shining light on injustices past and present – resonate with me as I think of the 900 oral history interviews of Japanese Americans unjustly incarcerated during World War II that Densho has curated on our website. These personal testimonies are a powerful tool to heal the scars of historical trauma and reach the hearts and minds of those who doubt the existence and pain of racism. Densho’s mission is to keep these stories alive and relevant – to help us see the negative consequences of when we cave in to fear and bigotry.

In 2018, we promise to boldly share these stories. We’ll be traveling to faraway places we have never visited to give presentations; training hundreds of teachers around the country to bring these tools into the classroom; adding tens of thousands of historic photographs and documents to our ever-growing online collection to illuminate untold stories; and working with the media and adding new online resources to help millions learn from this history. We also promise to elevate voices that are too often ignored, and to engage others in meaningful discussion, including those whose opinions differ from our own.

Above all, we promise to listen, learn, and grow while we continue to share the Japanese American story .


Tom Ikeda
Join us on February 19th for "Our History, Our Responsibility"

In honor of the 2018 Day of Remembrance we will recognize Japanese American service members, survivors, resisters, and upstanders of World War II. We are thrilled to host Gold Star father  Khizr Khan  and musician  Kishi Bashi  in Seattle as our featured Day of Remembrance presenters. Learn more and register! We will also live stream this event for those unable to attend in person.

February 19, 2018 | 2:00-3:30
Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion  

*World War II incarceration survivors and Nisei veterans are encouraged to attend and will be honored during the event — if you plan to attend, please email info@densho.org  with your name and the names of your accompanying family members so that we can issue VIP tickets to you. 
Call for Volunteers

We are looking for volunteers to help us out at our Day of Remembrance event. Please email volunteer@densho.org if you're interested!
Exciting Opportunity for Seattle-Area Artists!

We're excited to announce our first ever artist-in-residence opportunity! We’re looking for a Seattle-based artist with digital media skills and a passion for history and racial justice. Applications are due January 31st. Please help us spread the word about this exciting opportunity.

This position is funded by the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture as part of a pilot program to develop strategies that center marginalized communities and cultural heritage organizations in racial equity work. Densho’s Digital Media Artist-in-Residence will participate in cohort sessions with other arts and cultural organizations in the pilot program to share lessons learned through their residencies.

Blog Highlight: "Ship Jumpers, Border Crossers, and Other 'Illegal' Issei"

Here at Densho, we often draw parallels between the forced removal and subsequent incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast and the treatment of marginalized groups today. Sadly, the need to do this has only increased in recent months. However the current crackdown on and scapegoating of immigrants—particularly those deemed “illegal”—should remind us about an earlier period of Japanese American history: that of the Issei pioneers who came to the U.S. over one hundred years ago and laid the foundation of today’s Japanese American community. But did you know that a good number of those pioneering Issei came came over illegally?

Oral History Spotlight

May Ota Higa was born in Seattle, Washington, and was incarcerated with her family at the Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington, and the Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho. In this clip, May describes her father's immigration to the United States illegally as a contract laborer.

Make Your Voice Heard 2018: An MLK Day Youth Advocacy Workshop

Check out this MLK Day workshop opportunity for the woke teens and tweens in your life! Youth in 6th-12th grade will gain the tools to speak out publicly against Islamophobia and Antisemitism, build relationships between diverse communities, and empower change. 

>> Learn more .
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