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  • Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Commemoration is set for April 18, 2019

    About:  The Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument (VJAMM)  sits on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards. The 9′ 6″ tall solid black granite obelisk marks the spot where some 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu lined up with only what they could carry in April, 1942. Buses transported them directly to Manzanar.

    Save the date April 18th for the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Commemoration!

    Here is a message from VJAMM’s Phyllis Hayashibara.

    The Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee is pleased to announce three prominent speakers for the VJAMM Commemoration on Thursday, April 18, 2019:  Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of the Japanese American National Museum; Warren Furutani, community activist and Manzanar Pilgrimage pioneer; and Ken Seino Kataoka.  Kataoka channels his maternal grandfather, Charles Kozo Kataoka, in his trademark black suit with numbered tag on a string, fedora, and set of small, green suitcases, as if on his way to the train station in 1942 that would transport him from the Assembly Center at Santa Anita racetrack to the American concentration camp at Rohwer, Arkansas. 

    Ken Seino Kataoka channels his maternal grandfather, Charles Kozo Kataoka, circa 1942.  Photo from Ken Seino

    Warren Furutani returns to the VJAMM after he delivered the keynote address on April 27, 2017 at the VJAMM Dedication.  Alarmingly enough, Furutani predicted that the VJAMM’s solid black granite obelisk would suffer graffiti and vandalism, and exhorted the VJAMM Committee to let the damage remain untouched.  Such damage would serve as testament, he said, to the prejudice and hatred that still exist today against different minority groups, based on ethnicity, religion, or gender identification.   

    Warren Furutani at VJAMM Dedication in 2017. Photo by JK Yamamoto

    Fortunately for the VJAMM obelisk, no such vandalism has yet occurred after two years on the busy northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards.  Thanks to several youth groups, the VJAMM has been regularly polished, with volunteers sweeping up debris from the sidewalk, planter, and street curbs, and even scraping the gum residue from the sidewalk.  Most recently, on Friday, March 15, 2019, after a months’ long hiatus due to the rainy season, Venice YouthBuild returned for the fourth time to polish the black granite obelisk known as the VJAMM.    YouthBuild volunteers Moises Avalos, Keiveon Owens, Gage Fontana, Kendale Martinez, and Justice Harrison accompanied YouthBuild Associate Director Tijana Quilici. 

    Venice Community Housing YouthBuild on March 15, 2019. Photo by Phyllis Hayashibara

    The volunteers read the text on the VJAMM that describes: the forced removal of some 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu, their gathering at this very corner on Venice and Lincoln Boulevards, and their incarceration in Manzanar; the historical context of Executive Order 9066 which led to the “relocation” and imprisonment of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were U. S. citizens, from California, Oregon, and Washington based simply on the ethnicity they shared with America’s WWII enemy, Japan; and finally, the need to be vigilant about our Constitutional rights to due process and the writ of habeas corpus, to ensure that “the powers of government  must never again perpetrate an injustice against  any group based solely on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.”  Rutt’s Café in West Los Angeles donated delicious Kalua pork sliders to the youth volunteers for lunch.

    Photo by Venice Paparazzi

    President and CEO of JANM since 2016, Ann Burroughs delivered the keynote address at the 49thannual Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 28, 2018.  She grew up in South Africa, and told of being imprisoned for her stance against apartheid.  More than most, Burroughs knows the consequences of racial prejudice and official suspension of civil rights.  She has devoted her career to promoting social justice and human rights; in 2018 Amnesty International’s Global Council named her Chair of the organization’s highest decision-making body that convenes human rights leaders from over 70 countries.  In fact, it was through the efforts of Amnesty International that secured her release from prison in South Africa.

    Ann Burroughs at Manzanar Pilgrimage in 2018 (photo by Phyllis Hayashibara)

    The VJAMM Commemoration will begin at 10 am and conclude at 11:30 am on the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards. 

    2019 marks 77 years after Executive Order 9066 led to the 1942 forced removal and the beginning of incarceration; 31 years after the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988; and 50 years after the first Manzanar Pilgrimage.  Street parking is limited, so please arrive early enough to find a parking space and walk back to the corner before 10 am.  Hama Sushi Restaurant in Venice, which is celebrating its 40thanniversary, will once again host the 

    Hama Sushi’s Esther Chaing and City of LA’s Len Nguyen

    VJAMM fundraiser for lunch and dinner from 12:00 noon through 9:00 pm.  No special bento will offered this year, but any items may be ordered from the menu.  Esther Chaing, proprietor of Hama Sushi in Venice, has pledgedthat 10% of all lunch and dinner sales will be donated to the VJAMMCommittee for continuing maintenance of the VJAMM and for educational outreach. 

    For reservations at Hama Sushi Restaurant, 213 Windward Avenue, “on the circle” in Venice, please call 310-396-8783. 

    To take a look at the menu, visit www.hamasushi.com/menu/html.  Sorry, no curbside pick-up this year. 

    For more info: venicejamm.org