Civil Liberties Public Education Fund


Created by the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-383), this federal program was established to educate the public on the issues surrounding the wartime incarceration of individuals of Japanese descent, and to publish and distribute the hearings, findings, and recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC), the independent body appointed in 1980 by Congress to study the facts surrounding the World War II incarceration of individuals of Japanese ancestry.

Background

In addition to monetary payments, public education on the wartime incarceration was considered one of the key provisions of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. As recommended by the Commission, a fund was established "to sponsor research and public educational activities."[1] Initially, $50 million was authorized for this purpose, but as a result of intense lobbying from 1988 to 1992, only $5 million was finally appropriated in 1994. In January 1996 President Bill Clinton appointed eight individuals to oversee its operation, and this board of directors was sworn into office in April 1996.

Activities and Accomplishments

The board's stated mission was "to publish and distribute the hearings, findings, and recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) so that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered, and so that the causes and circumstances of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood."[2] It was charged with making disbursements of the $5 million in federal funds. A portion was used to republish the findings of the CWRIC in 1997 in collaboration with the University of Washington Press as Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians with a new foreword by Tetsuden Kashima. The CLPEF also issued a contract to edit over 4,500 pages of transcripts from the hearings of the CWRIC to provide a complete record to the public for use in seeking further information.

An additional $3.3 million was distributed to fund 135 projects, including 18 national fellowships, that were catalogued to include the areas of curriculum, landmarks/exhibits, art/media, community development, research, research resources, and national fellowships. Projects covered such diverse subject matters as Nisei veterans, the role of Nisei women, Japanese Latin Americans/Peruvians, the Department of Justice camps, the experience of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i during World War II, the role of the Military Intelligence Service, those who resisted incarceration, and the redress movement. Among the diverse recipients from 20 states and the District of Columbia were museums, educational institutions, libraries, artist and theater groups, as well as individuals. Projects ranged in funding from $2,000 to $100,000.

A curriculum summit was held on August 27, 1997, for 50 curriculum grant recipients and educators to integrate lessons learned from the wartime incarceration into a national education curriculum. A 1998 national conference was also held in San Francisco to allow grant recipients to share and discuss their projects. Earlier in the same year, the CLPEF and the Smithsonian Institution co-sponsored a national Days of Remembrance in Washington, D.C., to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066, and to call national attention to this landmark event. Several public service announcements were also produced with CLPEF funds.

Current Status

The Civil Liberties Public Education Fund closed its offices in November 1998. The applications and projects of the grant recipients are currently held under the title of Civil Liberties Public Education Fund Grant Program Records (99.98.1) at the Japanese American National Museum.

Authored by Sharon Yamato

For More Information

Finding Aid for the Civil Liberties Public Eduction Fund Grant Program Records. Japanese American National Museum. http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt3c6033q1/.

Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Seattle: University of Washington Press and Washington D.C.: Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, 1997.

Maki, Mitchell T., Harry H. L. Kitano, and S. Megan Berthold. Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Footnotes

  1. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (Seattle: University of Washington Press and Washington D.C.: Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, 1997), 463.
  2. Personal Justice Denied, xi.