Dmae presents two different pivotal timesÂ of Oregon WWII history. First we’ll find out about a new musical play calledÂ Vanport by Shalanda R. Simsfeaturing the Vanport community during WWII that was washed away in the 1948 flood. We’ll hear about the largest African American community in Oregon at the time workingÂ in the Kaiser Shipyards and the tragedy that befell when they lost their homes.
Then we’ll hear about Never Give Up! –an event on July 29th at 6pm at APANO that honors the courageous act of Portland native Minoru Yasui who challenged the constitutionality of a curfew imposed on people of Japanese descent during the start of WWII in Portland. We’ll hear about Citizen Min a reading of Holly Yasui’s new play about her father and about a community dialogue with leaders about racial and civic justice.
Vanport Synopsis: They came from all over the country, men, women, children, families. They came mostly by train during WWII to serve their country, work in the Kaiser Shipyards…to make as much money as they could, not only to survive but to obtain the American Dream. They worked long and hard…often for less than others. Their population in Oregon increased from 2,000 to approximately 20,000 making the city in which they lived the second largest in the state.
The housing project was the first of its kind serving as a model for the rest of the country. After the war many left returning to their hometown of Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma and beyond but some stayed making the city their home until the flood of 1948 washed it away. Come smell the opportunity, touch the dream, hear the music, taste the victory and see the canvas as this refreshing take on Vanport unfolds.
Vanport runs July 30th – August 1st, Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm at the Jefferson High School Auditorium, 3210 N. Kerby Ave. in Portland.
Written and directed by native Oregonian Shalanda R. Sims ( shalandasims.com). Shalanda is a professional artist, a member of both AEA and AGMA. The cast and crew consist of local professional and amateur adult and youth artists such as national Saxophonist Eldon T. Jones, Oregon’s August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) winner, Isaiah Sims, the talented Jefferson high Alumna, Kristin Warren, Alonzo Chadwick, Ms. Saeeda Wright and many others. This show is presented by Pen In My Hand and Self Enhancement Inc. ( selfenhancement.org)
And in the latter part of the show Dmae talks with Theatre Diaspora’s Chisao Hata who is directing NEVER GIVE UP! –an evening of art and dialogue followed by light refreshments, produced byÂ Theatre DiasporaÂ featuring highlights fromÂ Holly Yasuiâ€˜s play CitizenÂ Min.
More about Minoru Yasui:Â On March 28, 1942, just three months after he opened his law practice, 25-year-old Minoru Yasui, decided to become a test case to challenge the curfew imposed on persons of Japanese ancestry in Portland at the start of WWII. He went up to a policeman past 10 P.M. and demanded to be arrested for breaking a curfew he thought unconstitutional. He spent the next nine months in the Multnomah County jail in a 6 X 8 foot windowless cell as he awaited his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Min was convicted, sentenced and sent to Minidoka Internment Camp in Idaho.Â After the war ended, Min Yasui spent the rest of his life not only challenging the forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry during WWII, but fighting for civil rights for all disenfranchised Americans.
After the reading, NEVER GIVE UP features diverse community leaders in a dialogue with the community about Minoru Yasuiâ€™s impact on civil rights, immigration, and national security policies â€” then and now.
Citizen Min is writtenÂ by Holly Yasui. Dramaturgy by Nikki Nojima Louis. Direction by Chisao Hata.