In the 1960s, Warren Furutani and Victor Shibata decided to travel to Manzanar: a former internment camp in Owen Valley, California where 110,000 Japanese-American citizens had been incarcerated during World War II. Furutani's parents had been incarcerated at an internment camp and the pair were hoping to learn more about a chapter of U.S. history that had been missing from their textbooks. To their disappointment, they were unable to learn much about the realities of Japanese-American internment at the site. In December 1969, the pair led 150 individuals on a pilgrimage to Manzanar. Also leading the trip was Sue Kunitomi Embrey, who had spent part of her childhood in Manzanar. Together, Furutani, Shibata, and Embrey formed the Manzanar Committee and campaigned for the former internment camp to be designated as a national historic site. When the U.S. government granted this distinction to the camp in 1992, the committee's intentions for Manzanar were to preserve the realities of the camp so that present-day visitors could learn about this chapter of U.S. history. In this episode of the podcast 99% Invisible, producer Emmett Fitzgerald interviews Furutani about his work to ensure that the injustice of Japanese-American internment not be erased from public memory. Fitzgerald also speaks with Bruce Embrey, son of the late Sue Kunitomi Embrey, and to Alisa Lynch, a historic interpreter at Manzanar. This powerful episode demonstrates the important role that national parks and historic sites play in honoring and preserving U.S. history, including the history of injustice.
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