Visual Communications a Recipient of the California Civil Liberties Grant

Visual Communications is pleased to announce that we are a recipient of the California Civil Liberties Grant for two of our fiscally sponsored projects and a VC Archives project.

(Sacramento) The California State Library has awarded $998,850.25 for 31 projects through the California Civil Liberties Public Education program. Grantees from across the state will create unique educational projects – from opera to podcasts, documentaries to virtual reality – that involve multiple cultural communities and age groups.

“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 past mistakes and connecting them with current events helps make sure we remember we’re always stronger together.

“Civil Liberties projects can play an active role in meaningful learning and discussion about the issues – and results of the past two years of funding for this program are available online for all to use and learn from.”

The current round of grants is the second of a series 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 offer one more opportunity for applicants in late fall or early winter of 2019.

Previous projects funded by the program can serve as educational tools – in classrooms, or in communities – to celebrate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Among past projects funded through the program are an interactive online experience of the hardships and decisions for Japanese Americans during World War II; multiple documentaries and podcasts from public broadcasting organizations and nonprofits; performing and visual arts programming; and teachers’ guides and lesson suggestions with primary source materials and articles. There’s a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math project involving Minecraft.

A comprehensive list is available on the California Civil Liberties program website under the tab “Recent projects to guide civil liberties educational discussions and learning” at As these newly funded projects and others are completed, the State Library will add them to the list as well.

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 of as high as $1 million annually from 1998 through 2011. Funding was eliminated on July 1, 2011. At the request of Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, Governor Brown approved $1 million in onetime funding for the program in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With legislators like Assembly members Ting and Al Muratsuchi supporting the program, Brown 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 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.


Visual Communications Media (America’s Concentration Camps, Revisited) - “America’s Concentration Camps, Revisited” will enable Visual Communications to reactivate its mobile photographic exhibit created in 1970 and popularly known as the “Cubes Exhibit.” Visual Communications will create a companion Educators’ Activity Guide to encourage site-specific learning and engagement activities by educators and community facilitators utilizing the exhibit; and development of a modular, interactive website that connects and compares the injustices of the relocation and confinement experience to acts of racism and personal injustices perpetrated upon individuals and communities of color in the present day.

Visual Communications Media (All That Remains) - ALL THAT REMAINS is a feature-length documentary examining the incarceration of Japanese- Americans during World War II and the racial profiling and detention of Muslim-Americans after 9/11. The film considers these events by using original audio interviews with survivors over footage of their lives today, personal objects, photos, and documents as tangible remains of trauma.

Visual Communications Media (Third Act) - THIRD ACT is an hour-long documentary that illustrates the legacy of remembrance and ongoing process of recovery from the World War II exclusion and detention of Japanese Americans. Seen through the life and work of pioneering filmmaker Robert A. Nakamura, as told by his award-winning filmmaker son, Tadashi, the documentary draws on themes of historical and inter-generational trauma to show how its impact is also felt by communities who are facing discrimination and other civil rights violations in the past and the present.