UCA receives grant to preserve history of Japanese Americans

The University of Central Arkansas was recently awarded a $75,908 grant from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program and the National Park Service. UCA was one of 20 institutions across the nation awarded funding from the federal program.

The goal of the program is to teach present and future generations about the history of 120,000 Japanese Americans who were relocated from their homes and detained at 50 confinement sites throughout the country, including one in Rohwer and another in Jerome, Arkansas, during WWII.

Dr. Gayle Seymour, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication and author of the grant, developed the project as part of the university’s mission to promote diversity. “The story of heroic survival in the face of injustice is one that resonates with us today as we continue to struggle with issues related to equal rights for all,” she said.

“As stewards of our nation’s history, the National Park Service recognizes the importance of preserving these confinement sites,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They are poignant reminders that we must be always vigilant in upholding the civil liberties for all.”

In order to remember the closing of the Japanese American internment camps 70 years ago, UCA will host the CORE Performance Company, a professional dance company dual-based in Atlanta and Houston, to create and premiere “Remembrance,” an evening-length contemporary dance work, on November 9, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Reynolds Performance Hall.

“Remembrance” features staging and choreography by Sue Schroeder and CORE Performance Company for six dancers with stage and set design by Nancy Chikaraishi, whose parents were imprisoned in the Arkansas camps. The production will also include sound design by renowned Berlin composer, Christian Meyer, featuring the names of internees audio recorded by Rohwer survivor, actor, and activist George Takei. Dramaturg Erin Weller Dalton will contribute a narrative text derived from archival material preserved in the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

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