Fletcher Bowron, former Mayor of Los Angeles, used his weekly radio show to indict Japanese people during World War II. His amazingly racist rhetoric was spewed over Los Angeles’s airwaves, fueling the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry. Now is the time to remove his name from the square that honors him.
About the Director:
Steve Nagano, a former teacher, has been a longtime activist in the Southern California Japanese community. As a member of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (formerly the National Coalition for Redress & Reparations), he served as one of the project directors of the film “Stand Up for Justice, the Ralph Lazo Story” and was the graphics designer for its teacher’s guide. NCRR, along with Visual Communications, oversaw the filming and preservation of the testimonies of the 1981 Los Angeles Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians hearings. Recently he served as the project director of “Courage of Japanese Americans who Spoke Out” (National Parks Service-Japanese American Confinement Sites grant) project that produced the 13-DVD set of the CWRIC hearings. As a filmmaker, Nagano has shown his films at various Asian American film festivals and community events. As a 10-year resident of Little Tokyo, Nagano has immersed himself into the community by participating in the Little Tokyo Historical Society, Visual Communication’s Digital Histories and the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund as well as produced several community public art projects.
“Reparations” explores the four-century struggle to seek repair and atonement for slavery in the United States. Black and Asian Americans reflect on the legacy of slavery, the inequities that persists, and the critical role that solidarity between communities has in acknowledging and addressing systemic racism in America.
“We Came Back for You” is a film poem based on a poem by the same name by Satsuki Ina, a psychotherapist and activist who is one of the featured “heroes” in the exhibition, Transcendients: Heroes at Borders. The film features Ina reciting her poem over a montage of photographs of her during and after her incarceration during World War II, footage preserved in the archives of the Japanese American National Museum, and images of Ina’s current activism that connect the travesty of democracy then to the present-day crisis occurring on the U.S.-Mexico border, where immigrant refugee families are being separated and held in detention centers indefinitely.
From the hot-button issue of Black reparations, to the racial reckoning of America leading to the re-examination of monuments to racist icons, to the role of Japanese Americans in using our experience to safeguard the rights of others similarly targeted by racial scapegoating, the “Righting Civil Wrongs” shorts programs utilizes history to inform the present.