CSUSB alumna leads tours at Manzanar National Historic site for Latino Conservation Week
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Cal State San Bernardino history graduate Rocio Gomez is leading the Echoes of Resilience/Voces de Valentía site tours at the Manzanar National Historic site in July during Latino Conservation Week.
Gomez, a Latino Heritage intern, is a 2016 graduate of CSUSB. She will lead site tours at the national historic site on Tuesday, July 18, Thursday, July 20, and Saturday, July 22, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
On July 15 and 18, the tour will go to an area known as Block 14. On July 20 and 22, the tour will feature Manzanar’s Japanese gardens. Superintendent Bernadette Johnson will join the tours on July 15 and 22.
In addition, she will introduce the film “Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story,” based on the true story of 16-year-old Mexican/Irish-American Ralph Lazo, who chose to go to the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II with his Japanese-American friends, at 12:30 p.m. The film was produced by Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress and Visual Communications in 2004.
Latino Conservation Week, which began on July 15, is an annual event promoted by the Hispanic Access Foundation to encourage collaborative partnerships among environmental, governmental and conservation organizations to engage Latino communities in the National Parks.
CSUSB has forged ties with the Manzanar Historic Site, with history and anthropology students participating in public archeology projects there. Led by Cherstin Lyon, associate professor of history, the university has participated in the project for the last five years.
This year is a particularly important one at Manzanar as it marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which authorized the U.S. military to create zones for which it could exclude all people of Japanese ancestry, both American citizens and non-citizens. It also is the 25th anniversary of Manzanar, one of the 10 camps where Japanese Americans were held during World War II.
Congress established Manzanar National Historic Site in 1992 to preserve and share the stories of Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated in Manzanar. Echoes of Resilience/Voces de Valentía will highlight inspiring stories about some of the people at Manzanar whose courage and resilience helped them navigate through a difficult time in our nation’s history.
These special events are free and open to the public. Visitors interested in the walking tours should meet in the Manzanar Visitor Center lobby shortly before 9:30 a.m. to sign up. The first 10 visitors to sign up for each bilingual tour will receive a Manzanar souvenir water bottle, courtesy of the Manzanar History Association.
Organizers urge visitors to wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen. There are no food services at Manzanar, so bring snacks and water. There will be places to refill water bottles on the tour.
Manzanar Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. The visitor center also features extensive permanent exhibits and a 22-minute introductory film, “Remembering Manzanar.” An auto tour road circles the site, highlighting Japanese gardens, historic orchards, the cemetery and more.
Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, Calif., and about 190 miles north of Cal State San Bernardino.