photo by Jenni Kuida

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ONLINE 34th annual pilgrimage april 26, 2003











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Press Release: April 24, 2003

Catch the Manzanar MAD-ness!
By Jennifer "Emiko" Kuida
Rafu Column for April 24, 2003

Catch the MAD-ness! This weekend, hundreds of folks of all ages will be traveling 200 miles into the desert for the 34th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar. I’m excited because this year’s theme is "A Call to Action: End Racial Profiling, Speak Out for Peace."

I’m excited because people will come, make connections, experience the daytime pilgrimage, and commemorate the camps. I’m excited for Nisei who were in camp to share their stories and struggles with young people. I’m excited because buses of children, high school students, college students, and teachers will come to Manzanar for the first time, to learn about the camp experience. They will be able to breathe the dust and feel the wind, just like Nisei children and their Issei parents did 60 years ago.

I’m also excited because Manzanar Committee is expanding its programs to include a full weekend of events from Friday, April 25th through Sunday, April 27, supported in part by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP).

Beginning on Friday night, the Committee will host a "Button Making & Crane Folding for Peace" workshop with college students for the first time. With hands-on arts and crafts activities, we will make buttons saying "No More Manzanars, "End Racial Profiling," and "Speak Out for Peace," for participants at the pilgrimage on Saturday. We will also teach college students how to fold origami paper cranes, with the idea that they’ll give them out, and help pilgrimage participants also make them at the pilgrimage.

At Saturday’s pilgrimage, we will honor Jerome and Poston camps. Taiko Center of Los Angeles, Asian American rock band Visiting Violette and Ken Koshio will perform for us this year. Kathy Masaoka from the Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress 9/11 Committee will share the reasons why Japanese Americans have organized and reached out to Muslims and Arab Americans since 9/11. Joe Yamakido, who was a resister at Jerome, will speak about his experiences at Jerome during World War II.

The daytime program will end with the raising of the ten camp banners and a roll call commemorating all of the former internees. The roll call will lead us into the Interfaith Service, organized each year by Reverend Paul Nakamura of Lutheran Oriental Church. The most moving part for me is always the flower offering during this portion of the program. Immediately after, we dance the tanko bushi!

On Saturday night, Visiting Violette, Ken Koshio and Taiko Center of Los Angeles will kickoff the Manzanar After Dark (MAD-ness!) evening program at the American Legion Hall in Independence.

I started the MAD-ness program in 1997 as a way of engaging young people and taking the daytime pilgrimage program a little deeper, a little more intimate. It’s a place and space for sharing, educating and learning, participating in group discussions between the generations. The highlight of the evening is the open mic, with spoken word and cultural performances. And of course, we snack away the evening with lots of junk food.

Involved since the first year, EducationInAction, has sponsored groups of students from City College of San Francisco each year. These students have actively participated as emcees, facilitating the group discussions, sharing phenomenal poetry, spoken word and refreshments. But more importantly, they have become friends, as we work together every year.

This year, our intergenerational discussions, led by students, will make links between the incarceration of Japanese Americans, racial profiling of Muslims and Arab Americans, and the war in Iraq. I invite Nisei to come and share their memories with these students, hungry and eager to learn about their experiences.

For me, this is the most exciting part of all. Giving young folks a chance to have intimate conversations with former internees is an incredible way to understand what they went through. Something they can’t get from reading in a book. These days, more and more of the attendees have no direct family members who were in camp, so these exchanges are even more crucial.

On Sunday morning, our final event will be a (W)rap Up and Out Breakfast. We will sum up the discussions and solicit feedback about the weekend’s activities. We will also talk about our upcoming project, the final project of the CCLPEP grant. We will be publishing a zine, which will be a booklet of poetry, writings, drawings and photos about Manzanar. We hope to include poetry from the spoken word portion of the Manzanar After Dark program.

All of these events are free and open to the public this weekend. So, come on out, get excited, and catch the MAD-ness!

MAD-ness Events:
Friday, April 25th
- Button Making & Crane Folding For Peace, Dow Villa, 7pm- 9:30pm
Saturday, April 26th - Pilgrimage Daytime Program, Manzanar National Historic Site, 12pm
Saturday, April 26th - Pilgrimage Walking Tours, approximately 2:30 pm
Saturday, April 26th - Manzanar After Dark (MAD-ness!) Program: Visiting Violette, Ken Koshio, Taiko Center of LA, Intergenerational Chat, Spoken Word, Open Mic, American Legion Hall, Independence, 6:30-10:00 pm
Sunday, April 27th - Breakfast (W)rap Up and Out, Dow Villa, 9am

Jennifer "Emiko" Kuida is a volunteer organizer with the Manzanar Committee and Project Director of the MAD-ness program. For more info, see the website: ©2003. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


Updated: 4/23/03