Last night, news broke across social media that legendary human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama had passed away. Official news sources were slow to confirm, but sadly, it was true. The world had lost another titan of history — less than a week from the day Maya Angelou was taken from us, no less. The universe can be cruel sometimes.
Last night, I had the distinct honor to attend a screening of To Be Takei — the new documentary about Start Trek actor, civil rights activist, and social media maven George Takei — as part of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center‘s ongoing Asian Pacific Heritage Month celebrations. Bookended by remarks from Smithsonian APAC Director Konrad Ng and a Q&A with the film’s subjects, the entire evening was a celebration of one of our culture’s most trailblazing icons.
Having made its debut at Sundance in January, To Be Takei was recently acquired by Starz for digital and theatrical distribution later this year. In advance of its formal theatrical release, the film has been doing the festival rounds and made its Washington, DC premiere at the Warner Brothers theater inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. I was lucky enough to check it out with the homie (and fellow NOC) Patrick Michael Strange.
This morning, in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Labor, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez officially inducted thousands of 19th century Chinese railroad workers into the Labor Hall of Honor. I wanted to share Ming Doyle‘s contribution to the Smithsonian project. Titled “Building America,” Ming‘s piece depicts the Asian Americans who risked their lives to connect the Transcontinental Railroad between 1865 and 1869.
Since today is the 72nd anniversary of Executive Order 9066, and a Day of Remembrance for the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II, I wanted to share Bernard Chang‘s contribution to the Smithsonian project. Titled “Internment/Service,” Bernard‘s illustration honors the Japanese Americans who fought for justice abroad while their families suffered from injustice at home.