Washington, DC – This past Sunday marked the conclusion of the Japanese American Citizens League’s 50th convention and the celebration of the organization’s 90th anniversary, which was held at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. Notably, this is the same hotel where the JACL first committed itself to engaging in redress and reparation efforts in 1978. The highlights from this year’s convention included a recognition of the 25th year since JACL’s support of marriage equality, an open mic night hosted by the local youth, a trip to the Topaz incarceration site, and a myriad of other activities and workshops. The convention concluded with the Sayonara Banquet in which the JACL honored local basketball legend, Wat Misaka, social justice advocate and Los Angeles teachers union leader, Arlene Inouye, and United States Senator Mazie Hirono. The JACL extends its deepest appreciation to its JACL staff members, the local convention committee, and all of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this past week an outstanding one.
This year, the JACL made history.
During its National Council session, the JACL members in attendance discussed and debated a number of topics, including a resolution in recognition and apology to Tule Lake Resisters. Over the course of numerous days of JACL members participated in spirited dialogue, late-night conversations, educational workshops, and a lively debate on the convention floor — all of which culminated into the JACL’s National Council voting to approve this historic resolution.
The National Board of the JACL additionally issued a statement expressing the need for JACL to continue its work towards further reconciliation between JACL and those incarcerated at Tule Lake. The National Board emphasized the need for improved education on the Tule Lake experience and affirmed the National Board’s commitment as a governing body to explore sustainable, multilateral efforts toward seeking community-based reconciliation.
JACL National President Jeffrey Moy emphasized, “It is imperative that we bring our community together in order to build power to face the civil rights challenges of today. The diverse experiences of Japanese Americans should be celebrated as a strength, not as something divisive.” He continued, “JACL has long embraced the incredible legacy of our Japanese American veterans and their valor in fighting for a country that did not fully see them as American. The passage of this resolution signals our intention to be more inclusive of all of our community, particularly those who resisted the incarceration.”
Haruka Roudebush, JACL Vice President for Membership who worked with the committee in the drafting of the resolution added, “This is just one step in a process JACL must go through to achieve reconciliation within our community. The years of distrust and pain between the JACL and Tule Lake’s incarcerees as a result of JACL’s wartime strategy are not wounds that will be healed with one resolution or one offered apology. We are committed to continuing with this process by reaching out to Tuleans and working together to repair and rebuild relationships in order to achieve long-term healing in the community.”
It is through the continued efforts of our members that the JACL strives to remain at the forefront of civil rights and social justice issues. While we cannot change history, we can make an impact on how we will shape our future.
The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.