March 2016
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda

Dear Friend,

We’ve spent the past 20 years at Densho collecting oral histories, photographs, and documents to keep the story of Japanese American World War II incarceration alive. As we continue to gather these stories, we’re also turning our attention to activist education. That is, we’re advocating for social justice and racial equity in the present day by making Japanese American history more widely known.

In February, we held our first digital teach-in. For the five days leading up to the Day of Remembrance we delivered short history lessons to the 700 people who had signed up for the challenge. In addition to covering the basics of Japanese American history, we also asked questions to encourage participants to think critically about how the mistakes of the past could make us better-informed in our reactions to current events. The teach-in was such a success that we’ve scheduled a second one for the first week of Asian-Pacific American heritage month (May 1-6). Sign up and spread the word here.

We also learned in February that we received grant funding from the Kip Tokuda Memorial Fund that will help us fund teachers to take our online course and implement it in the secondary classroom. The online course provides teachers with curriculum and primary source material for teaching Japanese American history and to encourage critical thinking among our next generation of leaders. With the Kip Tokuda funding we can make the online course even stronger by incorporating feedback from educators who have used the curriculum in the classroom. Learn more about how to apply for the Demonstration Project below. 

As Densho starts developing our activist education work, what else do you think we should be doing to connect the Japanese American story to current events? Email me at with your thoughts. 


Tom Ikeda

Teaching with Primary Sources: Demonstration Project

Application Deadline: March 23

Densho is seeking 55 Washington-based secondary teachers to participate in a demonstration project. All participants who complete the following will receive a $200 honorarium, assorted teaching materials, and will be eligible for 5 clock hours. 

Participants will be asked to:

  • Take an online course (approximately 6 hours). 
  • Try something from the online course in your classroom. 
  • Complete an online evaluation.
  • Write an assessment of your classroom experience.

The Suyama Project: No-No Boys/Tule Lake Discussion & Project Archives Presentation

Join us March 12 in Seattle.

Historians Roger Daniels and Barbara Takei will preview their much-anticipated new book on Tule Lake. Frank Abe will present research into the life of Seattle novelist John Okada, author of the landmark novel NO-NO BOY, and how Okada took the story of the draft resisters and set it against the places he grew up in here in postwar Seattle. 

Women's History Month 

March is ‪#‎WomensHistoryMonth‬ and we're featuring different women from the Densho archives, encyclopedia, and blog. Follow along on Facebook or Twitter. At the end of the month you'll know more about 31 amazing Japanese American women--from artists and activists to everyday people.

Oral History Spotlight

Atsumi Ozawa grew up in Huancayo, Peru. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her father went into hiding in an attempt to avoid being picked up by the Peruvian government. He was eventually found and arrested, and was reunited with family on the ship from Peru to the United States in 1944 when they were forced to go to the Crystal City internment camp, Texas. In this clip, Atsumi talks about the hardships faced by her mother on the trip.
Densho in the News 

Many thanks to PRI's Global Nation for bringing our article about Japanese American and Black history to a broader national audience. 

Take a look: 

Call to Playwrights

Broadway Center is pleased to announce a call to playwrights that will initiate the creation of a new Civil Rights Legacy play for touring to schools and community centers in January and February of 2017!

The Education Department of the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts is commissioning a new play as part of its on-going Civil Rights Legacy program. Geared for audiences from Kindergarten through adults, this new work will explore the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II, drawing connections to civil rights issues.

For more information, email Katie Lappier, Associate Director of Education:

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