March 2017
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda

Dear Friends,

Over the past several months, as new restrictions on immigration are being discussed and put into place, I’ve thought a lot about my maternal grandparents. My grandfather Suyekichi Kinoshita came to Seattle just weeks before the immigration of Japanese workers was halted in 1908. He worked as a busboy and eventually earned enough money to return in 1920 to Kagoshima, Japan, marry my grandmother Akino, and return to Seattle. A few years later, in 1924, the United States banned any further immigration from Japan.

My grandparents came to this country during a time of strong anti-Japanese sentiment, when it was believed that Japanese immigrants were too strange and exotic to ever assimilate into American culture. This racist belief that Japanese and their offspring would remain separate and not fit in like other immigrant groups—or the even more worrisome fear that Japanese would dilute the “racial purity” of white America—led to these restrictive immigration policies.

Unfortunately, we are returning to the days when fear and suspicion shaped our immigration laws. A few days ago, U.S. Representative Steve King of Iowa made a troubling declaration that "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." King, and others like him, argue that we should close our borders to certain groups because they will not assimilate, drawing on ugly stereotypes that paint immigrants as a faceless horde of perpetual foreigners, dangerous simply because they are not "like us."

The America I want cherishes immigrants as a strength, not a burden, whether they are here for opportunity or fleeing from oppression.


Tom Ikeda

With nearly 1,500 in attendance, our Day of Remembrance event exceeded all expectations. It was a deeply meaningful event for us and many who attended, and we're eager to continue our collaboration with the Muslim community here in Seattle and beyond. 

New Oral Histories in the
Densho Digital Repository
We're thrilled to announce that all Densho oral histories are now available in the Digital Repository! Anyone who's used our old archive platform will understand how exciting this is—and we hope that the ease of access will allow even more of you to engage with our rich collection of interviews. Take a look! Search by name or by topic, share direct links to videos, and even download high quality clips.

This project was completed in partnership with the Internet Archive and was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program.

Blog Highlight: Immigrants Do Not Need to Prove Themselves Worthy of Inclusion

2017 is shaping up to be a rough year for immigrants—which is saying a lot, considering that building a new life in a new country is, by definition, pretty damn hard. A lot of (digital) ink has already been spilt over the now infamous travel ban, the ICE raids, the wall, the sharp increase in immigrant detention, the proposal to deport undocumented children receiving federal assistance. The xenophobia and callous disregard for human life lurking, none too subtly, beneath these policies speaks for itself, and if you’re reading this you probably know all that anyway.

>> Read more. 

Blog Highlight: Little-Known Stories of Resistance

Stories of resistance to World War II incarceration often include Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, Fred Korematsu, and Mitsuye Endo. These are the most famous Japanese Americans who resisted the racially based curfew and exclusion, and later the mass incarceration. Their resistance led to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are all deserving of the recognition they’ve received. But did you know that beyond this group, there were a good number of others who willfully disobeyed the exclusion orders authored by EO9066Here, in brief, are a few of their stories.

>> Read more. 

Oral History Spotlight

Poet and activist Janice Mirikitani was born at the Stockton Assembly Center, California. She grew up in Chicago after the war and struggled through a difficult childhood. She became a writer, poet, political activist, and the founding president of the Glide Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing services for San Francisco's marginalized communities. In this clip, Janice discusses how her childhood experiences shaped her current work with Glide, and why it is important to reach out to women of color.

>> Watch interview clip

Densho Teacher Workshop: Spokane and Birmingham Workshops Still Open

Later this month we'll be launching our brand new teacher workshop: 

Our Seattle and New York workshops are at capacity, but we still have openings for middle school and high school educators in Spokane (4/22) and Birmingham (4/29).

Please help us spread the word! Participants will be served lunch and compensated with a $100 honorarium. 

>> Learn more and register.

Come Work With Us! 

We currently have a temporary position and two summer internships available at our Seattle office (and we promise our technology is more advanced than what's pictured here!):

Assistant Digital Archivist (18-month position, .75 FTE with benefits) 

Digitization Internships (2 open positions, May - August 2017)

All three positions are funded, in part, by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. The internships are also supported, in part, by a grant from 4Culture.

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