Excursion: Fertile Ground

The Delta (Photograph: Sara Edwards Neal)

The Delta
(Photograph: Sara Edwards Neal)

In the article, “Excursion: Fertile Ground,” AY Magazine explores points of interest in the Arkansas Delta, ranging from local businesses to historical sites. AY includes the Rowher Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery on its list of historical sites to visit, describing it as, “…a poignant reminder of one of this nation’s greatest trespasses against its own people….” To view the article, please click here.

George Takei on NPR’s “Fresh Air”

CC8B936A-2EDC-46DC-A722-9C00349987D7George Takei recently appeared on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air,” to discuss his new documentary, To Be Takei. To listen to the interview, please click here.

George Takei on The Daily Show

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 10.59.07 AMGeorge Takei recently appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss the documentary, To Be Takei. To Be Takei, an Official Selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of George Takei’s life, from his family’s internment at the Rohwer Japanese internment camp to his time working on Star Trek, and much more. George’s interview with Jon Stewart focuses on his experience at Rohwer. To view the interview, please click here.

Why I Love a Country that Once Betrayed Me

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.37.41 PMWhen he was a child, George Takei and his family were forced into an internment camp for Japanese-Americans, as a “security” measure during World War II. 70 years later, Takei looks back at how the camp shaped his surprising, personal definition of patriotism and democracy. This talk, “Why I Love a Country that Once Betrayed Me,” was presented to a local audience at TEDxKyoto, an independent event.

A Conversation with Sharon Wong and Tim Taira

Left to right: Mrs. Tim Taira, Mr. Tim Taira, Mrs. Sharon Wong, Mr. Wong

Left to right: Mrs. Tim Taira, Mr. Tim Taira, Mrs. Sharon Wong, Mr. Wong

On April 15, 2014, Tiffany Keb and Alyson Gill interviewed Sharon Wong, a former Jerome internee born in the Jerome hospital, and Mr. Tim Taira, a former Jerome and Rohwer internee whose father was a physician in the Rohwer hospital. We will be posting those interview on the website over the coming days. It was an honor to speak with them, and we look forward to continuing those conversations.

Solo Exhibition by Nancy Chikaraishi (Drury University)

10153923_739656492732316_1249161382_nNancy Chikaraishi, associate professor of Architecture at Drury University (Springfield, MO) will feature her artwork at the museum for three months beginning April 16th and ending July 16th. Her parents were internees at Rohwer. Her solo exposition features artwork of the Japanese American struggle in the Camps.

An interview with the artist is posted here.

Professional Development for Teachers Scheduled for June 30, 2014

The World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee will conduct a Professional Development Workshop on Monday, June 30, 2014. The event will start at 9:00 a.m. In cooperation with McGehee Schools, participants will travel to the Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center site for a more indepth understanding of the camp. For information, contact Susan Gallion,

Museum wins Cultural Heritage Award

1800191_709518529079446_389166911_nThe Museum was awarded the Cultural Heritage Award by Arkansas Delta Byways — an association of 15 Eastern Arkansas Counties. Congratulations! More than 2,100 visitors have registered as museum guests since last April. Jeff Owyoung & Mayor Jack May accepted the award. A group of about a dozen people from McGehee were there!

Lewis to receive Oakley Award

The Association for Gravestone Studies will present the Oakley Certificate of Merit Award to University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor of history Dr. Johanna Miller Lewis, along with three other Arkansans on Thursday.

Dr. Johanna Lewis, UALR

Lewis and the others will be honored at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Reception Room of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History at 503 E. Ninth St. in Little Rock.

The award is for work that fosters appreciation of the cultural significance of gravestones and burying grounds through study and preservation. The event is free and open to the public.

Lewis, who also serves as associate dean of the UALR Graduate School, began a project to stabilize and restore Rohwer cemetery markers at the former Japanese Internment Camp in Desha County upon receipt of a 2011 National Park Service grant.

She started working on the cemetery with architect John Greer in 2003 with another Park Service grant for $35,000.

UA-Fayetteville History Professor Kimball Erdman will also be recognized. Erdman worked with Lewis at the Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery.

Erdman’s landscape architecture class prepared a Historic American Landscape Survey, including measured drawings, photography, and a written history of Rohwer.

Carla Hines Coleman and Tamela Tenpenny-Lewis, co-founders of Preservation of African American Cemeteries Inc., are the other two recipients. They worked with schools and other groups to identify, document, and conserve African-American cemeteries in the state.

Lewis and Erdman collaborated with Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program to use maps and research in their interpretation for site visitors and with the UALR’s Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies to prepare a laser 3-D scan of the site.

“This has very much been a team effort at UALR with Andrijana Vukovich and Dave Millay in Facilities Management and John Greer leading the way,” Lewis noted.

AGS is a non-profit organization based in Greenfield, Mass, with members from many countries who share interests in art, history, art history, genealogy, archaeology, anthropology, conservation, and material culture.

For the original news article, click here.



New Website Interprets Significance of World War II-era Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center


JONESBORO – Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center tells a heart-wrenching story about the plight of U.S. citizens who were forced to relocate to the Arkansas Delta during World War II.

A new website of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program makes the center and its educational mission even more accessible for those seeking to know more about its significance in American history.

The A-State Center for Digital Initiatives developed the website in collaboration with Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Heritage Sites, and her colleagues.

“Ruth asked us to work with the Heritage Sites team to create an online presence that gives visitors a better sense of what the relocation center was like,” explained Dr. Alyson Gill, director of CDI and associate professor of art history at A-State.

The website is a complement to interpretive exhibits installed by A-State’s Heritage Sites program and dedicated last spring.  Audio portions of the exhibits were narrated by George Takei, one of the center’s most famous former war-time residents.  Takei  is best known to his millions of fans for portraying Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the original “Star Trek” television series and “Star Trek” motion pictures.

“I remember going to school behind barbed wire fences,” Takei recalls in one of the recordings.    “We began every morning with the Pledge of Allegiance.  I could see the barbed wire fence and armed guards in towers from the school windows as I recited ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ ”

Takei also was present at a dedication ceremony for the exhibits, held in conjunction with the opening of the new World War II Japanese-American Internment Museum at McGehee.  Some of his dedicatory remarks are included on the web site, along with portions of his audio recordings and other elements from the exhibits.

“Rohwer is not an easy place to get to for many people,” Hawkins said.  “ We wanted to share this chapter in our nation’s history with a much broader audience by making some of the same information available via a robust web site.”

Gill said the CDI team that developed the website,, included an architectural illustration of part of the center, images from archives, as well as historical information.  They have worked closely with Hawkins and other researchers and historical authorities to model the Arkansas Heritage Sites.  The ongoing work by Heritage Sites and the Center for Digital Initiatives is supportive of the university’s mission to educate leaders, enhance intellectual growth and enrich lives.

“It is a privilege for us to work with the Heritage Sites,” Gill added.  “We will continue to add to the website in the coming months.”

For original article click here.

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