2017 JACL National Convention Summary

The 2017 JACL National Convention in Washington, DC was a very busy and successful one!  Attendees from the New York chapter board included Co-President George Hirose, Vice President Amara Hoshijo, EDC Vice-Governor and Strategic Planning Committee member Takumi Harada, and National Credentials Committee chair Luis Fujimoto.

The first night featured an exclusive reception at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, centered around the “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” exhibit which opened earlier this year in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. We were also pleased to hear that this exhibit has been extended until December 2018.

On the second night, Convention delegates were invited to a wonderful reception at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence.  Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, was presented with the Ralph L. Carr Award for Courage for his lifetime of service in support of civil rights, while Bill Yoshino was awarded the Foreign Minister’s Award for his 38 years of service to the Japanese-American community, most recently as the Interim Executive Director to the JACL.

We also had the opportunity to meet our newest JACL National Executive Director, David Inoue, formerly a member of the Washington DC Chapter board and former Administrative Director at Christ House.

The National Council sessions were busy as always, featuring a total of 8 resolutions that were passed.  Two resolutions were sponsored by the Eastern District and the New York Chapter: the first, proposed by the New England Chapter, opposes the US’s reliance on mass incarceration and private for-profit prisons.  The second, jointly proposed by the New England Chapter and the Honolulu Chapter, supports a refugee policy free of religious and racial prejudice.

The third resolution, proposed by the Seattle Chapter, featured by far the most debate.  This resolution condemns the treatment of Native American rights during the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and calls for more education within the JACL around the issues surrounding DAPL.

Resolution 4 urges funding for a Midwest Regional Director, which has been left vacant since Bill Yoshino’s departure; Resolution 6 calls for continued funding to sustain the Teacher Training Workshop Programs; Resolutions 5 and Emergency Resolutions 1 and 2 all focus on the historic preservation and recognition of three historic sites related to the Japanese American Legacy – the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony (the first Japanese Colony in North America), Amache Incarceration Camp, and The Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company Site, respectively.

The Youth and Young Professionals had a big presence at convention as well; the two groups (the NY/SC and the Young Professionals Caucus) collaborated to create a series of resource sheets covering a variety of topics which young JA’s and AAPI’s consider to be important and which many members may not necessarily be too familiar with, including LGBTQIA terminology, Islamophobia, Mental Health, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, and Media Representation of Asian Americans.

The Young Professionals Caucus, formed last year to create a space for self-identifying Young Professionals within the JACL, continued to organize and solidify its membership and operating procedures, and hopes to organize more events in the near future.  If you are interested in learning more about this group or would like to get involved, please reach out to Takumi Harada at takumikh@gmail.com or (551) 804-5511.

Other events and sessions included two workshops: one titled “AAPI’s Portrayal in the Media & Arts” hosted by Rob Buscher, Festival Director at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, and Rick Shiomi, Co-Founder of Theater Mu.  The other focused on building coalitions among intersecting identities and communities, and was hosted by Sarah Baker and Emi Kamemoto from the NY/SC.  The NY/SC’s closing session on Sunday covered Japanese-Latin American incarceration and redress, an oft-overlooked topic within the Japanese-American community.

The National Convention will be held in Philadelphia next year, so we are very excited for the New York chapter to once again have a large presence at convention.  We hope to see you there!

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