National Day of Remembrance: 80 Years of Reckoning

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National Day of Remembrance: 80 Years of Reckoning
February 18 - February 20
A child climbs on a barbed wire fence. In the background is one of the concentration camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII.

February 19, 2022, marks 80 years of racial reckoning since the signing of Executive Order 9066 that led to the wrongful incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. National Day of Remembrance: 80 Years of Reckoning, a collaborative event co-hosted by the National Park Service, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is a three-day program inspired by Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III’s 2020 initiative “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past,” which speaks to the responsibility of the Smithsonian and all museums:

Secretary Bunch stated, “[O]ur vision is to create a hopeful future for all people using history and reconciliation to contextualize and transform our understandings and responses to race and racism.” He mentioned in another interview that “[i]n a divided moment, the Smithsonian can remind audiences of our shared history, heritage and hopes for the future.”

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, we look back on the museum’s 1987 exhibition A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution. This exhibition featured the Japanese American immigration story up to incarceration and emphasized the misinformation and racism that enabled this great injustice to happen. Just four years before the opening of the exhibition, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, a congressional study resulting in a process of hearings and reconciliation, had concluded that the incarceration was due to “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The exhibition contextualized the congressional findings and had an immense impact on Congress, which thereafter passed the 1988 Civil Liberties Act. The Civil Liberties Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan, authorized historic, bipartisan redress and reparation payments to individuals who were incarcerated and a grant program for historical preservation and education. This act has been a catalyst for an ever-evolving reckoning of the Japanese American community and allies to this day.

It is our hope that this Day of Remembrance, in the spirit of Secretary Bunch’s initiative, will spark positive dialogue, creative partnerships, and cross-community engagement in our “shared future.”

Learn about the Japanese American community’s struggle for recognition and redress from those who lived it and hear from those who continue to reckon with this history today. Please join us for our opening program and six live-streamed panel discussions involving 30 dynamic leaders from around the country who are making a difference.

Schedule of Events:

Friday, February 18
7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT/2:00 p.m. HT
National Day of Remembrance: 80 Years of Reckoning, Opening Ceremony

Saturday, February 19
Panel Discussions:
1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT/8:00 a.m. HT
Racial Reckoning and Japanese American Museums

3:00 p.m. ET/noon PT/10:00 a.m. HT
Creating Paths to Justice, Healing, and Renewal
5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT/noon HT
Day of Remembrances: Standing for Redress and Reclaiming History

Sunday, February 20
1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT/8:00 a.m. HT
Restorative Justice and Healing in Preservation and Interpretation Through Community Engagement

3:00 p.m. ET/noon PT/10:00 a.m. HT
Historic Preservation and Engagement Through the Arts

5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT/noon HT
Passing on the Torch and Empowering the Community

Details
Start:
February 18
End:
February 20
Organizers
National Park Service
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation
Venue
Online