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Monday, April 22, 2024

City of Davis hosts movie viewing in remembrance of Executive Order 9066

“And Then They Came For Us” discusses Japanese American Internment during World War II 

 

By ALMA CULVERWELL city@theaggie.org 

 

On Feb. 26, the city of Davis hosted a community viewing session of the film “And Then They Came For Us” in recognition of Executive Order 9066 at the Veterans Memorial Theater. Executive Order 9066 was the bill that led to Japanese American internment during World War II. 

The event was free for the public to attend and co-sponsored by Davis Asians for Racial Equity, Davis Phoenix Coalition, UC Davis Asian American Studies and the city of Davis’ Human Relations Commission. The doors for the event opened at 5:30 p.m. with the film viewing starting at 6 p.m., followed by presentations and a Q&A session directly after. An estimated 275 people attended the event. 

Pattie Fong, lead organizer of the event, commented on the goals she had when planning. She originally came up with the idea to hold the event in January and began outreach in her local volunteer newspaper, Currents.

“The goal of this event is to have more people knowledgeable about the impact of Executive Order 9066 because the hysteria of WWII against Japanese Americans is repeating in our contemporary lives,” Fong said. “Muslim bans, refugees at the southern border being called criminals, teachers/librarians who sponsor LGBTQ+ events being called perverts and molesters, etc. The fake news is all around us and the politicians are fueling the hate.”

“And Then They Came For Us” is a 2017 documentary directed by Abby Ginzberg and

Ken Schneider. The film retells the history of Japanese American internment during World War II and follows current-day Japanese American activists speaking out against the Muslim registry and travel ban.  

Dawn Yackzan, a community member who attended the viewing, described her feelings about the event. 

Pattie Fong’s Japanese Remembrance Event at the Veteran’s Memorial was wonderful,” Yackzan said. “I learned important history and new details of the traumatic events forced upon Japanese Americans. I teared up when listening to some speakers. I loved the side comments from the audience members, some of whom were historians, giving context and personal details.”

Yackzan went on to describe some of the logistics of the event. 

“[Fong] had a comprehensive PowerPoint running in the background with decades of photographs and publications from 1942 to the Feb. 2024 Koramatsu ribbon cutting with paintings done by Toni Rizzo and community [members],” Yackzan said. “Fong’s Japanese Remembrance program was as moving as it was important.”

Fong noted her extensive background research and interest in the Woodland and Yolo County archives surrounding Executive Order 9066.

“I [spent] many days and hours reviewing microfiche of historic Davis Enterprise and Woodland Democrat newspapers, [which are] available at the public libraries,” Fong said.  “The Yolo County Archives [were] also helpful with research on the Winters Express newspaper, WWII records […] and Yolo County government records.”

Fong emphasized the importance of familiarizing the community with Executive Order 9066 and raising awareness of ongoing current-day events. She added that she would love to assist with future similar events moving forward.

“This conversation is also a learning opportunity for the entire community to acknowledge [that] institutionalized hate is a prime example of critical race theory and [to] recognize that the hateful speech against southern border refugees, Muslims, Asian American Pacific Islanders [and the] LGBTQ+ [community] is the same hate articulated by a verbal minority who directly or indirectly urge harm and violence against specific groups in our community,” Fong said. “We need to recognize hate, feel empowered to denounce it and be good bystanders to stand with those being targeted, even today.”

 

Written by: Alma Culverwell city@theaggie.org 

 

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