Courage And Compassion


In 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American government officials made the fateful decision to remove the Japanese and Japanese American population from the west coast and to imprison 120,000 people—2/3 of whom were U.S. citizens—in camps for the duration of the war. This history of internment—and the story of how the community of Oberlin, Ohio responded to the discriminatory government policy—is featured in the touring public history exhibit, “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience,” on view at Oberlin’s Baron Art Gallery (65 E. College St., Suite 5) from February 17, 2018 to March 18, 2018.

Planned by the Go For Broke National Education Center and funded by a grant from the National Parks Service, this professionally designed and interactive exhibit covers events from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the fateful decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans in wartime camps to the postwar fight for redress. It also brings alive the local stories of communities like Oberlin, Ohio that showed courage and compassion to Japanese Americans who were suspected of disloyalty solely because of their ancestry. Oberlin was selected as one of the ten cities to be host the exhibit because the College and Conservatory recruited and admitted nearly 40 Japanese American students during the war, city residents defended the students when their presence was questioned, and Nisei (Japanese-American) students here spoke out and organized against racism and wartime discrimination. The exhibit places this story of Oberlin’s response to internment in the broader context of Oberlin’s history of activism and current debates around sanctuary cities and campuses.

Visitors to “Courage and Compassion” will learn have the opportunity to learn about the history of internment and its legacies for Japanese Americans, to engage with questions about what courage looks like during a time of crisis, and to consider the relevance of this history for today.

Here’s a list of public events associated with the exhibit:

Thursday, February 13, 12:20-1:15, Room TBA
“What Is Sanctuary?” A Panel with Oberlin Professors Gina Perez, Naomi Campa, Shelley Lee, Ellen Wurtzel, and Yveline Alexis (Sponsored by CAS)

Thursday, February 15, 7:15pm, Heiser Auditorium, Kendal at Oberlin, 600 Kendal Dr.
A Personal Story of Internment and introduction to the exhibit, featuring Kendal resident and former internee John Matsushima and Courage and Compassion co-director Julie Min
Saturday, February 24th, Finney Chapel [Time TBD]
A performance by San Jose Taiko

Thursday, March 1, 7:00pm, Dye Lecture Hall
Lecture by Naomi Paik, author of the book, Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II
“Rightlessness: Sanctuary and the Work Ahead”
Wednesday, March 7, 4:30pm, Stull Recital Hall, Oberlin Conservatory, 77 W. College St, Oberlin
“Courage and Compassion: A recital in honor of Japanese American Students at Oberlin during World War II” [title is tentative]
Featuring a performance by Alice Takemoto, OC ‘47

Wednesday, March 7, 7:00pm, Apollo Theater
A screening of the film Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration
Followed by a discussion with filmmaker Vivienne Schiffer, and two of the people featured in the film: Alice Takemoto, OC ’47 and her son, Paul

Saturday, March 10, 2:00pm, First Church at Oberlin
A public talk by Roy Ebihara, longtime Oberlin resident and internment camp survivor

Thursday, March 15, 7:00pm, Dye Lecture Hall
A lecture by Brian Hayashi, author of Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment
“Inversion: Re-Interpreting the Japanese American Camp Experience”

“Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience"

Richard D. Baron Art Gallery, 65 East College Street, Suite 5, Oberlin, OH  44074

February 17, 2018-March 18, 2018

Free to the Public