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JANM President/CEO to Be Keynote Speaker at Manzanar Pilgrimage

Ann Burroughs, welcoming the crowd during the 2018 Day of Remembrance program, on Feb. 17 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. (Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee)

Ann Burroughs, president and CEO of the Japanese American National Museum, will be the keynote speaker at the 49th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, on Saturday, April 28, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located on U.S. Highway 395 in the Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles.

Karen Umemoto, Ph.D., the new director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, will also speak.

UCLA Kyodo Taiko will open the program at 11:30 a.m., while the main portion of the program will begin at 12 p.m.

The theme for this year’s pilgrimage is “Silent No More: Liberty and Justice for All.” The pilgrimage will also commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

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 of the concentration camps to be established.

Burroughs has worked with leaders, organizations, and networks in the U.S. and around the world to promote social justice and human rights for more than 26 years. Prior to joining JANM, she was the senior consultant at Social Sector Partners, an organization that focuses on supporting social sector organizations through strategic adaptation and repositioning.

Burroughs previously served as executive director of the Taproot Foundation in Los Angeles and as executive director of LA Works. She has worked as a consultant for the Omidyar Network, the Rockefeller Foundation and the government of South Africa. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, USA as treasurer and immediate past chair, as well as on the organization’s International Council.

Her lifelong commitment to racial and social justice was shaped by her experience as a young activist in her native South Africa, where she was jailed as a political prisoner for her opposition to apartheid.

“Ann has played a such a significant and leading role in her short tenure at the Japanese American National Museum that her impact has been felt far beyond the walls of the museum,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “Her commitment to civil and human rights is both admirable and a tremendous example. For these and many other reasons, we are honored to have her as our keynote speaker for this year’s pilgrimage.”

In addition to the afternoon event, the Manzanar At Dusk program follows from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 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, California State Polytechnic University-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 interact with former incarcerees in attendance to hear their personal stories, share their own experiences, and discuss the relevance of the camp experience to present-day events and issues.

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).

Water will be provided, but participants should bring a refillable water bottle that may be filled at stations located on-site.

Those who wish to participate in the traditional flower offering during the interfaith service are advised to bring their own flowers.

Pilgrimage participants should also be aware of the fact that weather in the Owens Valley can be unpredictable and can change rapidly. Participants should always wear a hat, use sunscreen and lip balm (ultraviolet light is not affected by clouds and is more intense at higher elevations), and be prepared for any kind of weather, including high winds, heat, cold, and rain.

Both the Manzanar Pilgrimage and the Manzanar At Dusk programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call (323) 662-5102 or email

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when constitutional rights are in danger. A nonprofit organization that has sponsored the Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site.

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