LOS ANGELES, CA.-
The program, "Remembering Michi Weglyn and Walter Weglyn", will feature the screening of a new documentary on the life of the Weglyns, and a panel discussion featuring the filmmakers and personal friends of the couple at the Japanese American National Museum
, 369 E. First Street, in Little Tokyo, on Saturday, Jan. 31, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Democracy Forum.
Michi Nishiura Weglyn was a successful designer of costumes and clothing and worked on "The Perry Como Show" and other television productions. But she is best remembered as the author of the seminal book, Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps (1976), one of the first histories about the unconstitutional mass incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry by the U.S. government during World War II. Weglyn, who was born in Stockton, was a teenager when she and her family were forcibly removed from California into one of the 10 major government camps.
Her husband Walter is credited with encouraging his wife to write the book at a time when many Japanese American parents and grandparents were reluctant to discuss the war with their own families. Walter was a Dutch child survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and was passionate about ensuring that history about such events was told clearly and truthfully.
The program will screen the new documentary, "Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn", produced, directed and written by Nancy Kapitanoff and Sharon Yamato. Following the screening, a panel discussion will be held with Kapitanoff, Yamato, Professor Phil Nash, Esq., and Dr. Bob Suzuki, President Emeritus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, all who will recall the Weglyns with personal stories. Walter Weglyn passed away back in 1995 and Michi Weglyn died in 1999, almost 10 years ago.
"Hers is an American success story, not just an Asian Pacific American success story," said Yamato, in describing why she has decided to devote her film to Michi’s life. "Before Michi, most people believed that there was a military necessity for interning Japanese Americans. Through years of research and writing, Michi proved that was false. More than any other single individual, she paved the way for the redress movement and showed us that the efforts of one visionary and dedicated person can indeed make a difference."
Japanese Americans were able to get an official government apology and reparations for their unlawful removal when President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Weglyn’s book helped spur on the grassroots movement for redress in the 1970s, which led to the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) hearings in 1981 and eventually successful legislation in 1988.