Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties

8 Dorothea Lange San Francisco California April 25 1942 National Archives 1200


What does an American look like? Who gets to decide? 

Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties examines the terrifying period in U.S. history when the government scapegoated and imprisoned thousands of people of Japanese ancestry. It tells the story of the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents from their homes during World War II without due process or other constitutional protections to which they were entitled. This multimedia exhibition illustrates the impact this fear-based rebuke has on those who experience it firsthand and the lasting repercussions on the generations that followed.

The exhibit features imagery by noted American photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, alongside works by incarcerated Japanese American artist Toyo Miyatake and artifacts from the Chicago-based Japanese American Service Committee collection.

This exhibition examines the history of emigration from Japan to America, the responses of the American people and government to it, and traces the lives of Japanese Americans after the War as they struggled to reestablish their shattered lives. This narrative reflects distressing parallels to the discrimination, intolerance and governmental policies surrounding the historical and current immigration and refugee crisis in America and around the world.

Admission will be FREE through May 29, 2022, due to a generous donation from The Yabuki Family Foundation. Book your tickets here.

Special thanks to the Japanese American Citizens League WI Chapter for their partnership and friendship. For additional educational opportunities, view selections of their Oral History Project interviews.

– Argosy Foundation
– Linda and Eli Frank

– Anonymous Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation
– Nina and Richard Edelman

Jonathan and Amy Li Ansfield, Joan Becker Friedman and Mike Friedman, Sharon and Richard Canter, Green Bay Packers Foundation, Leslie Hayes, Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, Avi and Dannette Lank, Adam Shapiro, Jason Steigman and Dori Frankel Steigman

Media Sponsor: Wisconsin Public Radio

In Kind: Ron and Christine Kuramoto, Kevin Miyazaki, Cheryl Lund Miyazaki, Dave Suyama, Kathy Yullie

Then They Came for Me was originated in Chicago by the Alphawood Foundation with the support and cooperation of the Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago.

It also appeared ·in modified form at the International Center of Photography in New York and at the Presidio, San Francisco, made possible there through the generosity of the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation of Oakland, California.

Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s presentation of Then They Came for Me represents an abridged and modified version of the original exhibition.

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