Resisters: A Legacy of Movement from the Japanese American Incarceration

The signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Roosevelt and the resulting mass incarceration of Japanese American families living on the West Coast is among the single most traumatic events in the history of Asian America, but many history books present an incomplete view of the full story. The truth is that this event did not happen in a vacuum nor did the people who lived this event do so quietly.

The exhibit leads visitors through a historical narrative beginning with the experience of Japanese American incarcerees in the 1940s and the complicated feelings of shame, anger, fear, and varied faces of resistance from within the community. Through the following decades, the story illustrates the generational trauma and cultural aftershocks of incarceration, while highlighting the lingering sense of injustice and awakening to justice movements at home and abroad. Fast forward to 2001 and beyond, the exhibit draws parallels between the stigmatization of Japanese Americans and modern-day anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, and anti-immigrant policies. Visitors leave with a final prompt to consider: In the pursuit of justice, how will you show solidarity for movements today and into the future?

Through art, first-person accounts, historical material, and artifacts, this exhibit connects Japanese American resistance movements during the WWII era to modern BIPOC justice movements and activism today.