WEDNESDAY WISDOM: History and the challenge of remembering

Rabbi and cantor Angela Buchdahl commemorated Yom HaShoah with a song for her congregation in 2014 (Holocaust Remembrance Day is May 4th this year). She sang about a “history that has no words” and the challenge of remembering “too many names to name, numbers too hard to handle.” Commemorating those who perished in the Holocaust…

HISTORICAL NOTE: One Week to One Month in May, Every Year

In 1977, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii introduced a resolution [S.J.Res.72] in the U.S. Senate that proposed the idea of celebrating “Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week” during the first 10 days of May. A similar resolution [H.J.Res.540] was also introduced by Congressman Frank Horton of New York in the House of Representatives. Both resolutions did not…

NOTABLE ESSAYS: On Solidarity, Invisibility, and Satire

Racial and ethnic identity politics make for difficult conversations these days. Quick and sharp responses to offensive language in the media are multiplied and repeated, then  become trending topics in brief social media outbursts. These eruptions, unfortunately, offer more heat than light. Except for these three recent essays: [Huffington Post] How Do Asian Americans Advocate…

HISTORICAL NOTE: Starting the Delano Grape Strike

To protest the poor working condition of farm workers, Filipino American grape workers, members of the union Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by labor organizer Larry Itliong, initiated a strike on September 8, 1965 against the Delano grape growers in California. A week later, they were joined by the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), the Latino…

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHY: Recording LBJ’s presidency in pictures

Yoichi R. Okamoto was the first official White House photographer, appointed during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Okamoto was born in New York and became a photographer in the Army during World War II. LBJ, who wanted to emulate John F. Kennedy’s photogenic recording by media photographers, chose Okamoto to be his White House…

MUSIC MONDAY: Folk songs for a new identity

Chris Kando Iijima, Nobuko JoAnne Miyamoto, and William “Charlie” Chin released the album “A Grain of Sand” in 1973. Subtitled “Music for the Struggle by Asians in America,” it was the first musical expression of a consciously “Asian American” identity set in the folk music singer-songwriter fashion of the early 1970’s. The album contained songs…

FEATURED VIDEO: Executive Orders and Civil Liberties

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which authorized the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security. It was followed by Executive Order 9102 which established the War Relocation Authority for its implementation. Over 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were moved to assembly centers, then…

HISTORICAL NOTE: Rescinded recognition for wartime service

On February 18, 1946, President Truman signed a legislation passed by the 79th US Congress called the Rescission Act which denied promised veteran status for Filipino soldiers who were American nationals fighting under the United States Army Forces Far East. In preparation for an impending war with Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a military order…

IN THE NEWS: Remembering a Constitutional Hero

Fred Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066 that led to the incarceration during World War II of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them US citizens. His appeal became the test case that reached the US Supreme Court which ruled against him in 1944. Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1983. President Bill Clinton…