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Book Talk – Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American Incarceration

Date(s) - Tuesday, April 12th
7:00 pm CDT - 8:00 pm CDT

Jewish Museum Milwaukee

dsc0801-version-2Join us for a conversation about the book Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American IncarcerationAuthor Shirley Ann Higuchi, J.D., chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, will share her transformational journey into uncovering her family’s history and learning about the Japanese American incarceration during World War II. Higuchi will be joined by Ray Locker, editorial consultant for the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, and former incarceree, Kathleen Saito Yuille.

As children, Shirley Ann Higuchi and her brothers knew Heart Mountain only as the place their parents met, imagining it as a great Stardust Ballroom in rural Wyoming. As they grew older, they would come to recognize the name as a source of great sadness and shame for their older family members, part of the generation of Japanese Americans forced into the hastily built camp in the aftermath of Executive Order 9066.

Only after a serious cancer diagnosis did Shirley’s mother, Setsuko, share her vision for a museum at the site of the former camp, where she had been donating funds and volunteering in secret for many years. After Setsuko’s death, Shirley skeptically accepted an invitation to visit the site, a journey that would forever change her life and introduce her to a part of her mother she never knew.

Navigating the complicated terrain of the Japanese American experience, Shirley patched together Setsuko’s story and came to understand the forces and generational trauma that shaped her own life. Moving seamlessly between family and communal history, Setsuko’s Secret offers a clear window into the “camp life” that was rarely revealed to the children of the incarcerated. This volume powerfully insists that we reckon with the pain in our collective American past.

Order your copy of Setsuko’s Secret online here. Books will also be available for in-person purchase, Shirley Ann Higuchi will be available to sign copies.

This program has both in-person and virtual options. 
PRE-REGISTER to choose your viewing option.* 
Museum Members $5 | Nonmembers $10

*Jewish Museum Milwaukee Policy Regarding In-Person Program Attendance
– Limited to 40 patrons with socially distanced seating.  

We ask that all eligible adults who wish to attend in-person are current on relevant COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes receiving booster shots when eligible.
– Masks are requested but not required.

About the Presenters

Shirley Ann Higuchi, JD, chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation (HMWF), is the daughter of former incarcerees, Dr. William I. Higuchi and the late Setsuko Saito Higuchi who were children when they were incarcerated at Heart Mountain during WWII. It was not until her mother was on her deathbed in 2005 that Shirley would inspire to take on her mother’s dream of “having something built there.” She was elected Chair of the Board in 2009 and her proudest moment was unveiling the Foundation’s world-class Interpretive Center in August of 2011. Ms. Higuchi is Senior Director of the Office of Legal & State Advocacy in American Psychological Association’s Practice Directorate. Active in the District of Columbia Bar, Shirley served two elected terms on the Board of Governors from 1994 to 2000, served as Chair of the Bar’s Nominations Committee in 2001, and was elected President of the Bar for 2003. In 2008, Shirley was appointed to the Judicial Tenure and Disabilities Commission for a 6-year term where she was responsible for reviewing misconduct, evaluating reappointments, and conducting fitness reviews of the District’s judges. In 2014, Shirley was appointed to the Federal Law Enforcement Nominating Commission by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). 

Kathleen Saito Yuille was one of the 556 children born at Heart Mountain, where her parents, two older brothers and older sister were incarcerated. After the war, the Saito family returned to San Francisco, where Kathleen graduated from high school before attending the University of California, Berkeley. She now lives in Milwaukee, where she became an active member of the Milwaukee Art Museum and served as board president of the Contemporary Art Society and as co-chair of two Contemporary Art Auctions, a major fundraising event for the purchase of art for the museum. She currently serves on the Milwaukee Art Museum Board of Trustees. She is now a tireless advocate for the preservation of the memory of the Japanese American incarceration, an interest that began when her daughter’s fifth grade class assignment rekindled a sense of family history.

Ray Locker is the editorial consultant for the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. He has a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio University and a B.A. in political science from the University of Cincinnati. Before joining the foundation, he was an editor in the Washington bureau of USA TODAY, the managing director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the Sacramento bureau chief of the Associated Press, and an editor and reporter at the Los Angeles TimesTampa Tribune and Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama.  He is the author of two books about the administration of President Richard Nixon – Nixon’s Gamble: How a President’s Own Secret Government Destroyed His Administration and Haig’s Coup: How Richard Nixon’s Closest Aide Forced Him from Office. He also worked with foundation chair Shirley Ann Higuchi on her history of the Heart Mountain camp.

In connection with Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, February 18 – May 29, 2022.

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