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Five Views of Redress: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary


Guest curator: Frank Emi

Frank Emi

One of the seven leaders of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee; civil rights activist

Chest of drawers made out of redwood by Frank Emi during his incarceration at Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming, 1942.

Gift of Frank Emi (2003.294.1)

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I built this chest of drawers from scrap lumber in the fall of 1942 while incarcerated at the Heart Mountain, Wyoming concentration camp. The barracks were bare except for a potbelly stove and a single light bulb dangling from the roof. I had also built a vanity with a 36-inch mirror (purchased from a mail order catalog), which was my pride and joy. But because I was not at Heart Mountain to assist with the transfer back home, my family was unable to bring the vanity back to Los Angeles. When the camps were closing, six leaders of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and I were incarcerated in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, after losing our constitutional challenge to the government’s policy of drafting young men from the camps into the military. However on appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals eventually reversed our convictions, stating our right to challenge a law that we felt was unconstitutional. But that is another story.

In 1982, members of NCRR (National Coalition for Redress/Reparations) learned of our story—the only organized legal resistance movement within the ten camps—and asked me to talk about it. Most of them were Sansei, who had not suffered the injustice and humiliation we had been subjected to, and I saw how dedicated they were in their efforts in the face of tremendous odds, much like our fight for justice at Heart Mountain. In 1984, I felt compelled to join them in their fight for redress and reparations.

For me, the most memorable event of the redress movement was when over 100 members of NCRR went to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on behalf of H.R. 442, the redress and reparations bill. The bill passed, and the rest is history.

Based on this original

Chest of Drawers
uploaded by editor
Chest of drawers made out of redwood by Frank Emi during his incarceration at Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming, 1943. Gift of Frank Emi H: 38 in, W: 30 in, … More »

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