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Heart Mountain and other Japanese-American organizations hold day of remembrance virtual events

Grainy photo. Barbed wire fence in the foreground with little boy hanging on. Behind him are lines of barracks into the distance.
Photo courtesy of Bill Manbo.
Bill Takao Manbo hangs from the barbed wire fence surrounding the Heart Mountain concentration camp, where he was incarcerated from age two to age five. His father, Bill Manbo, Sr., took nearly 200 rare color photographs of life inside the camp.

This Saturday marks the 80th anniversary of the executive order that allowed all Japanese-Americans living on the West coast to be removed and incarcerated in camps like Heart Mountain between Powell and Cody.

Feb. 19 has been marked as a day of remembrance but also a day to look forward and make sure nothing like that happens again.

This weekend, a number of national organizations including Heart Mountain have partnered up to create a series of online programs that do just that.

"We'll be talking a little bit about what role museums and historic sites play and recognizing issues of race within our country and how we can better talk about that," said Dakota Russell, Heart Mountain executive director.

Russell said this is an especially important discussion to have as violence towards Asian-Americans has dramatically increased in the past couple of years.

"Violent incidents against Asian Americans went up by something like 150 percent in the last few years," said Russell. "And so it's really a place of trying to figure out how do we do some healing in a really immediate sense right now."

There also will be discussions about historic preservation and activism. Friday's opening presentation at 5 p.m. will feature a message from Vice President Kamala Harris and Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison Erika L. Moritsugu. The events run through the weekend. All events will be live-streamed on the National Park Service's YouTube channel.

The weekend's events will be presented by the Friends of Minidoka, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese American National Museum, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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