During a recent conversation with the Facing History community, acclaimed actor George Takei spoke about his experience surviving Japanese American incarceration and the lessons he subsequently learned from his father about the importance of relentless civic engagement. Takei is the author of the graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy (2019) in which he integrates his childhood experience of incarceration with perspectives gleaned from older survivors to offer readers of all ages an accessible window into his family’s experience.
Travel 230 miles north of Los Angeles to Owens Valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and you will find a white concrete obelisk with black Japanese writing rising out of the desert. Only a few simple gravestones stand in the background a few feet away. Today, the obelisk is one of the few remaining structures from the Manzanar War Relocation Center—an American concentration camp where Japanese Americans were held during World War II.