News February 17, 2021

What Does It Mean to Be an American?: A Webinar for Educators, February 20, 2021, 10am PST

Secretary Norman Mineta and Rylan Sekiguch
Secretary Norman Mineta and Rylan Sekiguchi; photo courtesy Gary Mukai

February 19th marks the 79th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066 in 1942 that led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Mineta Legacy Project and SPICE are providing an educational opportunity for people across the country to learn about the Japanese American experience during World War II by presenting a webinar on Saturday, February 20, at 10am PST. (Register for free at As part of the webinar, representatives from both organizations will be giving a virtual tour of the free online curriculum, What Does It Mean to Be an American?, which was inspired by Secretary Norman Mineta, who was incarcerated as a young boy and rose to become the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush. The curriculum is also a companion component to the documentary film, Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story. The Mineta Legacy Project is also making the film available to stream throughout the month of February.

Representing SPICE will be Rylan Sekiguchi, who was recently announced as the recipient of the 2021 Franklin R. Buchanan Prize for his authorship of What Does It Mean to Be an American? The prize is awarded annually by the Association for Asian Studies, which will formally honor Sekiguchi in a ceremony at 2pm PDT on March 24, 2021.

The curriculum is comprised of six lessons: Immigration, Civil Liberties and Equity, Civic Engagement, Justice and Reconciliation, Leadership, and U.S.–Japan Relations. There are more than 200 primary source images and 23 videos created specifically for the curriculum. During the webinar, in addition to hearing from Sekiguchi, educators will hear Karen Korematsu talking about her father and civil rights icon Fred Korematsu; Secretary Norman Mineta sharing why Japan is so important to him; the reaction from Japanese American women on receiving their apology and redress checks; and the powerful story of 99-year old Yae Wada from Berkeley, who reveals the decades of anger she felt from the time she and her family were evicted from the Bay Area and how she found peace upon receiving her apology. Importantly, the curriculum is broader than the Japanese American experience, exploring issues of inclusion and delving into the definitions of civil liberties and justice and how they are implemented.

Register for the free webinar at

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