Visual Communications Receives Funding from the California State Library

Visual Communications is proud to announce that six of our fiscally sponsored projects have received funding from the California State Library, for projects relating to Japanese American internment and present-day civil liberty issues. Congratulations! See the official press release below.

California Civil Liberties Projects Announced
Twenty-Five California groups receive funding for projects relating to Japanese-American internment and present-day civil liberty issues

(Sacramento) - The California State Library has awarded $644,000 for 25 projects through the California Civil Liberties Public Education program whose purpose is to remind Californians of the civil liberties violations suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II so that no one else goes through the same suffering.

“Fear and bigotry were the root cause of internment in World War II. Both are still around,” said Greg Lucas, California’s state librarian. “Better understanding of past mistakes and connecting them with current events helps make sure we remember we’re always stronger together.”

The current round of grants is the first of a series that was funded through a three-year, one-time allocation of $3 million in the budget approved in June 2017. Funding will continue through June 30, 2020, and the State Library expects to have two more opportunities for applicants with this funding, one in the winter of the 2018-2019 fiscal year and another in winter of the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

History of the California Civil Liberties Program
Prior to World War II, California was home to more Japanese Americans than any other state. In the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, wartime hysteria led to President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which put more than 120,000 Japanese Americans into relocation camps for more than 18 months.

When the state Legislature created the California Civil Liberties Public Education program in 1998, it said the program’s purpose was “to sponsor public educational activities and development of educational materials to ensure that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered so that the causes and circumstance of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood.”

The program received funding as high as $1 million annually from 1998 through 2011. Funding was eliminated in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011. At the request of Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, Gov. Brown approved $1 million in onetime funding for the program in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With support from legislators like Assembly members Ting and Al Muratsuchi, the governor included $3 million in the 2017-2018 budget to continue funding through June 30, 2020.

Legislation in 2017 by Muratsuchi, AB 417, clarified administrative details, established an advisory board, and encouraged projects that provide information about civil rights violations or civil liberties injustices that are perpetrated on the basis of an individual's race, national origin, immigration status, religion, gender, or sexual orientation as well as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

A full list of grant recipients and project descriptions follows. Members of the media may contact Kim Brown, Information Officer, at 916-651-6466 or

California Civil Liberties Public Education Program

California Center for the Arts, Escondido - Community Project
The California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum presents two exhibits from January to early March of 2019 -- Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams Born Equal but Not Free, and artist Wendy Maruyama’s Executive Order 9066, The Tag Project. During the exhibitions, community engagement activities will include performances by the Asian Story Theater and by violinist Kishi Bashi, who penned Omoiyari, a song story of his music created in locations where Japanese Americans were incarcerated. Youth from local schools will be invited to create their own stories to present in the student gallery. Lectures and family days will engage the public. $12,000

California Museum (fiscal sponsor) - Community Project
The "We the People" Committee in partnership with the California Museum has been working on a seven part educational documentary video series on the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and its multicultural relevance for today. Funding is provided for the final two video segments, educational guides, and distribution materials. $15,000

Densho - Community Project
Densho will conduct, preserve, and web-host 30 video life histories of Japanese Americans focusing on the immediate post-concentration camp experience in California, capturing both rural and urban experiences as well as life in hostels and trailer camps. The downloadable interviews--transcribed, indexed, and segmented--will be available online as part of the Densho Digital Repository. In partnership with the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and the Japanese American National Museum, Densho will produce three public programs that will highlight some of the interviews and feature commentary by scholars who have studied this time period. $30,000

Eighteen Eighty Eight - Community Project
Eighteen Eighty Eight strives to be the catalyst for telling the stories of Orange County’s diverse communities. Orange County is home to a large Japanese-American community that carries the history of the exclusion, forced removal and internment of individuals with Japanese ancestry during World War II. Decades later, recepients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Minors program find themselves in complicated situations that involve legal and civil liberties issues. This program connects voices of the past and present through a special podcast series that records the conversations from educational discussions, informational workshops, and the personal anecdotes of the speakers. $16,000

Fred T. Korematsu Institute - Education Project
The Fred T. Korematsu Institute will promote awareness of WWII civil rights violations by remastering and distributing the two-time Emmy-award-winning documentary Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story in commemoration of Korematsu’s 100th birthday. The film will reach the public through libraries, online screenings, and media outlets like PBS. $40,000

Fresno Arts Council - Community Project
The Yonsei Memory Project—a collaboration led by two Central Valley fourth generation Japanese American artists—will plan, produce, and facilitate three public programs (each including multiple events) in 2018-2019. The programs are a storytelling fellowship and performance; memory bus tours of significant Japanese American memorials; and a reading discussion series hosted at local libraries and community spaces. Each program amplifies s the work that the Yonsei Memory Project began in 2017, which was aimed at creating spaces for intergenerational dialogue and the restoration of Japanese American collective memory; cultivating inter-cultural partnerships in the Central Valley; and building public education programming specific to the region through arts and creativity. $20,000

International Indian Treaty Council - Community Project
The International Indian Treaty Council will update the 1999 Gold Greed & Genocide video and materials showing the impacts of the Gold Rush on indigenous peoples. The video and collateral materials will be shared through radio, online and public events, and to selected schools. The International Indian Treaty Council will collaborate with the National Japanese American Historical Society to present a panel discussing the similarities between these two historical periods. $18,000

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center - Community Project
The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center will produce the world premiere of Tales of Clamor created by PULLproject ensemble in partnership with Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress. This theatrical case-study examines the reverberations of Japanese American incarceration during World War II, and the need for dialogue and collective action to address racism and threats to safety today. Tales of Clamor utilizes aerial apparatuses, scenes based in the present and past, and rarely seen video footage from the 1981 Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians hearings in Los Angeles. $12,000

Japanese American Museum Of San Jose - Community Project
The Manabu (学ぶ means “to learn” in Japanese) Oral History Project will gather at-risk personal oral histories of the San Jose Japanese American pre-war, camp, and post-war experience through a collaborative, multi-organizational, community-wide effort. The Japanese American Museum of San Jose will act as the community hub and central archive for the Bay Area community, spearheading the effort to capture these stories and preserve them. $30,000

Japanese American National Museum - Community Project
The Stanley Hayami Virtual and Augmented Reality Project will share a young Japanese American boy’s journey — from his home in the San Gabriel Valley, to life in concentration camp and then to his service in the military — through letters, journal entries, and personal artworks. This two-phase project will be distributed through a widely accessible smartphone application and an exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum. $30,000

KALW - San Francisco Unified School District - Public Media Project
KALW, the school district’s student-run radio station, will produce a series of eight live, on- location broadcasts intended to expand public understanding of the history of Japanese American exclusion and detention, and connect that history to the concerns of other communities who have faced injustice and to the long-term struggle for civil liberties in the United States. These programs would be produced as part of KALW’s daily public affairs program Your Call and made available for national distribution. These events will be videotaped to allow for editing and repackaging as multimedia teaching materials for use in K-12 settings as well as by the broader public online. $75,000

Kelley House Museum Inc. - Community Project
Mendocino-born businessman Look Tin Eli led the reconstruction of San Francisco Chinatown after the 1906 Earthquake. His story reflects the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and his legal case was important to the eventual definition of citizenship. Various projects and activities may include: video and print materials for classrooms and speaker programs that illustrate his importance to California history, and examine the law as a precedent for Executive Order 9066 directing the internment of Japenese-American citizens and residents during World War II; a museum exhibit will document local exclusions and the detention of Japanese-Americans, and public forums in Northern California communities that open this history to examination and discussion. $8,000

L.A. Theatre Works Public - Media Project
L.A. Theatre Works seeks to use its audio theatre platform to produce and disseminate two plays about the Japanese internment: Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata and The Sisters Matsumoto by Philip Gotanda. The plays will be professionally recorded and broadcast on L.A. Theatre Works’ national radio show, and digitally preserved for streaming and download through the organization’s website. The broadcast and digital distribution of the plays aim to foster public discussion through newly recorded interviews with artists, detainee descendants, and civil rights experts; social media engagement; and the distribution of discussion guides to high school students and community groups. $60,000

Little Tokyo Historical Society - Community Project
The Little Tokyo Historical Society will produce a graphic novel that traces the years leading up through World War II and the relationship between African-American attorney Hugh Macbeth and civil rights leader Sei Fujii. In 1938, Fujii and Wright joined forces as members of the California Race Relations Committee to protect the representation and treatment of minorities across the United States. Inspired by over 10 years of research by the Little Tokyo Historical Society, this approximately 100-page black-and-white graphic novel aims to attract diverse audiences to learn about racial issues from the 1930-40s and how their communal efforts later inspired the Civil Rights Movement. $10,000

Los Angeles Opera Company - Community Project
Students across Los Angeles will learn and, in turn, educate over 5,800 community members about the Japanese-American Interment experience of World War II through opera. Through specially designed year-long residency programs, teens and elementary students will be immersed in operas and music that demonstrate the violations of civil liberties during World War II, with further examination of civil liberties issues throughout history and in present day. At the culmination of each residency program, the students will perform the operas and music they have learned for peers and community members in 14 performances to take place in schools and public venues. Each performance includes audience engagement, including discussions with Japanese Americans who experienced the internment camps. $20,000

National Japanese American Historical Society - Community Project
The producers of the award-winning documentary film, The Ito Sisters: An American Story, will utilize funds for distribution, outreach and engagement activities. The Ito Sisters captures the rarely told stories of the earliest Japanese immigrants to the United States and their American- born children. The film also charts the rise of the anti-Japanese movement in the early 20th century, providing historical context for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The funding supports a series of community screenings and panels, as well as public-media distribution assistance. $30,000

Nichi Bei Foundation - Community Project
Preserving Little-Known Stories of Nikkei Incarceration is a collaborative effort to preserve untold stories of the Japanese American incarceration experience through the presentation of films, performance arts and literature. This project will manifest itself through the expansion of the “Films of Remembrance” series and an author series featuring little-known stories held collaboratively at three Bay Area locations. $5,000

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley - Community Project
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley seeks support for its July 2018 production of Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata. This play chronicles the heroic story of Gordon Hirabayashi. Having refused internment during World War II, Hirabayashi was tried and convicted of curfew violation. He appealed to the Supreme Court without success and was imprisoned. In 1987, his conviction was overturned. In 2012, shortly after Hirabayashi’s death, President Barak Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This inspiring play, recently produced in New York, stars Joel de la Fuente in its San Francisco Bay Area premiere. $8,000

Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), 442 - Community Project
The team behind the creation of the digital graphic novel 442 ( will print physical copies of the work. The storyline of both the online and print version is of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up entirely of Japanese Americans and the most decorated unit of World War II.The project 442 centers on the 442’s most famous battle: The Rescue of the Lost Battalion. The copies of the graphic novel will be made available to schools, libraries, teachers and students throughout California. In addition, the authors and artist will lead public talks about the 442 and the incarceration experience to help bring awareness of that part of history. $18,000

Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), Building History 3.0 - Education Project
Building History 3.0 is a website and curriculum project that uses the 3D construction and exploration video game Minecraft to engage young people with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Students begin with a driving question on themes such as citizenship, civil liberties, democracy, and immigration, conduct research and then analyze and discuss that research. The students then construct virtual incarceration camps on Minecraft, and present their projects at a public event, in an essay, a vlog, or a short animation video. $90,000

Visual Communications (fiscal sponsor), Manzanar, Diverted - Community Project
Manzanar, Diverted, and its impact-focused interactive website, expands the story of the wartime concentration camp to reveal how water is at the heart of the experiences of Japanese Americans, Native Americans, and other farmers and ranchers who contested the more powerful U.S. Army and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for control of this land. The film examines intersecting legacies of various groups and how government entities have prioritized the cultivation of water resources in the Owens Valley for the demands of urban growth in Los Angeles over other areas and communities. $25,000

Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), Moving Walls - Community Project
The “Barracks Project” consists of six public programs that include a screening of Moving Walls, a film that deals with the barracks found at Japanese American detention centers during World War II, their impact on those forced to live in them, and their importance to the farming population that now uses them. There will also be a pair of panel discussions with two camp survivors who can recount -- first-hand – the experience of living in the makeshift buildings. This and complementary programming will encourage audience discussion about civil liberties violations that led to the forced removal of Americans of Japanese ancestry, and how such injustices are related to civil rights issues today. $12,000

Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor) One Square Mile, 10,000 Voices - Community Project
The interactive documentary project One Square Mile, 10,000 Voices consists of a sound installation at Manzanar National Historic Site, a Little Tokyo satellite installation, and an interactive website. Audio recordings from Manzanar’s past and present will be geo-located across the national monument. Using a mobile app and headphones, visitors walking around the site will be able to explore its rich oral history, and record their own reflections to add to the project. This participatory storytelling approach will encourage visitors to engage with the physical site and its historical archive in new ways. $30,000

Visual Communications Media (fiscal sponsor), Please Take Off Your Shoes - Community Project
Please Take Off Your Shoes is a feature-length hybrid documentary that asks the question: What if what happened to Japanese Americans in the 1940s happened today with Muslim Americans? Koji Sakai, whose family was imprisoned under Executive Order 9066, and Mustafa Zeno, a Muslim-American from Syria, crafted a story imagining what that moment would look like -- and then enlisted Mustafa's family to play out the scenario. The footage from this reenaction is the basis for interviews with Japanese and Muslim Americans who have experienced similar situations. $5,000

Write Out Loud - Community Project
Write Out Loud, in collaboration with the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, will create two Japanese storytelling theatrical pieces called Kamishibai. These stories will be based on personal experiences of Japanese Internment, and the results will be presented in local libraries, museums and classrooms throughout San Diego County. Workshops for creating two additional Kamishibai stories about civil liberty violations will be provided for young people from the local LGBTQ and immigrant communities, which will also be presented throughout San Diego County in similar venues. Classroom study guides for internment stories, relevant handouts for all community performance audiences, videos of stories, and social media outreach is included in this project. $25,000