SHAFAQNA – Around 50 people from the greater Sacramento region embarked on a three-day pilgrimage to Manzanar, a prison camp for Japanese Americans during WWII, located in Inyo County.
After the bombings of Pearl Harbor, wartime hysteria prompted President Roosevelt to establish 10 incarceration centers, which housed 120 thousand Japanese Americans.
For 83 year old Isao Fujimoto, the trip is like going down memory lane. He was interned at Tule Lake Detention Center during the war.
“Being aware of social justice issues and what can be done and come up with solutions is critical. So it’s great that young people are involved,” Fujimoto said.
UC Davis student, Breana Inoshita is making the pilgrimage to honor her grandparents, who were also internees.
“This experience is really important to me because I feel like it’s really drawing the gap between the older generation and the younger generation,” Inoshita said.
For the last 11 years, the Florin Japanese American Citizens league has partnered with the Council on American Islamic Relations of Sacramento Valley to sponsor the pilgrimage. They said it is a perfect partnership of two groups overcoming similar struggles.
In December, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump said he was calling for “a total and complete shutdown for Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
“We’ve seen the different forms of the same kind of rhetoric, same kind of surveillance and same kind of demonization of a people,” CAIR Sacramento Valley’s Danna Elneil said.
“The connection between the Japanese American and Islamophobia have a lot of parallels. And I think it’s especially important with the political rhetoric going on today with the election,” Inoshita said.
More than a thousand people from all over California will make this three-day journey to Manzanar, hoping that by learning from the past, America will not make the same mistakes in the future.
The group returns to the Florin Buddhist Church on Sunday evening.