Maytha Alhassen speaks at this year’s Day of Remembrance program. (Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee)
Maytha Alhassen, a Ph.D. candidate in American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California, and a contributing author to “I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim,” will be a featured speaker at the 47th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located on U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles.
Each year, over 1,000 people from diverse backgrounds, including students, teachers, community members, clergy and former incarcerees attend the pilgrimage, which commemorates the unjust incarceration of over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in ten American concentration camps, and other confinement sites, located in the most desolate, isolated regions of the U.S., during World War II. Manzanar was the first such camp to be established.
The theme for this year’s Pilgrimage is “Kodomo no Tame ni: For the Sake of the Children — Liberty and Justice for All.”
In addition to her Ph.D. work at USC, which includes studying race and ethnicity, social justice and the arts, travel and global flows, gender, media, and narrative healing, Alhassen’s work crosses various fields, including acadeic research, media engagement, and artistic expression.
A native of Southern California who received her BA in political science and Arabic and Islamic studies from UCLA and her MA in sociocultural anthropology from Columbia University, Alhassen is also a poet and performer/organizer for the play “Hijabi Monologues.” She is also a co-host/digital producer on AI Jazeera English’s social media-focused program, “The Stream,” and serves as a commentator on HuffPost Live. She has also written for CNN and The Huffington Post.
“The rhetoric we’re hearing these days that so often paints all Muslims as terrorists, or calling for a ban on all Muslims from immigrating to the United States, or even demanding their mass incarceration, is all too familiar for our community,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “The Japanese American community has a special responsibility to fight against such racism, hysteria and xenophobia, and to support our American Muslim brothers and sisters.
“Ms. Alhassen is a powerful voice in the struggle to protect the constitutional rights of all people. We’re honored that she’ll be joining us at the pilgrimage.”
In addition to the afternoon event, the Manzanar At Dusk program follows that evening from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Lone Pine High School auditorium, 538 S. Main St. (U.S. Highway 395), in Lone Pine, nine miles south of the Manzanar National Historic Site, across the street from McDonald’s.
Manzanar At Dusk is co-sponsored by the Nikkei Student Unions at CSU Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, and UC San Diego.
Through a creative presentation, small-group discussions and an open-mic session, Manzanar At Dusk participants will have the opportunity to learn about the experiences of those incarcerated in the camps, share their own experiences, and discuss the relevance of the concentration camp experience to present-day events and issues.
The Manzanar Committee also announced that seats on its bus to the pilgrimage from Little Tokyo are still available, but are going fast.
The bus will depart at 7 a.m. arriving at the pilgrimage at approximately 11:30 a.m., and will also take participants to the Visitors Center at the Manzanar National Historic Site following the afternoon program. The bus should arrive back in Los Angeles at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The non-refundable fare is $40 per seat, $30 for students and seniors. Complimentary fares are available for those who were incarcerated at any of the American confinement sites during World War II.
Anyone wishing to attend Manzanar At Dusk should make other transportation arrangements.
Pilgrimage participants are advised to bring their own lunch, drinks and snacks, as there are no facilities to purchase food at the Manzanar National Historic Site (restaurants and fast food outlets are located in Lone Pine and Independence, which are nearby). Water will be provided at the site.
Both the Manzanar Pilgrimage and the Manzanar At Dusk programs are free and are open to the public. For more information or to reserve a seat on the bus, call (323) 662-5102 or email email@example.com.