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‘Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II’ exhibit opens at Branigan Cultural Center

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An exhibit about the incarceration of Japanese Americans following the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor will open Saturday, Jan. 22, at Branigan Cultural Center (BCC), 401 N. Main St., the City of Las Cruces said in a news release. The exhibit will continue through April 2.

“Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II,” a Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “examines the complicated history and impact of Executive Order 9066,” the news release said. The order was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt Feb. 19, 1942, authorizing the U.S. War Department to designate certain areas as military zones, “clearing the way for the incarceration of nearly all 120,000 Japanese Americans during the war,” according to Wikipedia. “Two-thirds of them were U.S. citizens, born and raised in the United States.”

A coordinating exhibit, “Bound in New Mexico,” examines the four incarceration camps located in Lordsburg, Santa Fe, Fort Stanton and Old Raton Ranch in New Mexico, the city news release said.

“Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, ‘Righting a Wrong’ looks at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism and what it means to be an American,” the news release said. “The exhibition explores the complex history through historical images, personal stories and objects from those incarcerated at the camps.”

Roosevelt’s executive order sent 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese nationals to incarceration camps, the news release said. “From March 1942 to March 1946, 10 large, barbed wire-enclosed incarceration camps and dozens of other installations were located west of the Mississippi River. Young and old lived crowded together in the hastily built camps, endured poor living conditions, and were under the constant watch of military guards. While at the same time, brave Japanese American men risked their lives fighting for the United States.

“Some 40 years later, members of the Japanese American community led the nation to confront the wrong it had done. Congress formally recognized that the rights of the Japanese American community had been violated and President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing an apology and restitution to the living Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.”

The exhibit was developed by the National Museum of American History and adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

BCC is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The museum is accessible from RoadRUNNER Transit Route 1 Stop 1.

For more information, call 575-541-2154. Visit las-cruces.org and click on PLAY, Arts & Culture and Branigan Cultural Center. Follow Las Cruces museums on Facebook and Instagram @LCMuseums.