California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP) adds youth members to carry on message of internment

After the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP) Notice to All conference in San Francisco June 2005, CCLPEP director Elaine Yamaguchi and CCLPEP advisory committee members decided youth must be involved in the continued development of the CCLPEP program.

The conference’s youth sessions revealed that California’s youth have particular ideas about what they want to learn. Young people aren’t, Yamaguchi reports, emotionally attached to the Japanese American internment of World War II. The internment is a historical fact, not a part of their lives. But young people care very much about civil liberties and civil rights.

Young people also have strong opinions about how content reaches them. They don’t like being taught at: books and films, though interesting in the moment, leave them cold.

The CCLPEP program, leaders now know, needs young people on the CCLPEP team to keep the lessons of the Japanese American internment experience of World War II alive for future generations. Thus CCLPEP leaders have recruited two Japanese Americans, Suzanne Miyoko Sasaki, 26 year-old from Sacramento, and Haruka Roudebush, 22 year-old San Franciscan, to the CCLPEP advisory committee.

Newest (and youngest!) CCLPEP advisory committee members participate in Sacramento meeting

Director Yamaguchi says that after soliciting applications from the youth who attended the Notice to All conference, CCLPEP leaders selected Sasaki and Roudebush for their “ebullience, fresh insights, and professional accomplishments within Japanese American community organizations and school groups.” Sasaki and Roudebush participated in the CCLPEP advisory committee meeting April 19 at the California State Library in Sacramento. At that April meeting, Sasaki and Roudebush helped review 87 applications, for a total of approximately $2.8 million in requested funds, for the 2006 CCLPEP grants cycle.  With Sasaki and Roudebush’s input, the CCLPEP advisory committee ultimately allocated $500,000 to the winning applicants.

(For a complete list of 2006 CCLPEP grant recipients please visit the CCLPEP webpage.)

Before the April 19 meeting, Sasaki and Roudebush met with State Librarian of California Susan Hildreth, and Yamaguchi in the state librarian’s capital office.  Hildreth says, “It was a pleasure to meet with these enthusiastic young people before we commenced the serious business of reviewing CCLPEP’s grant applications.  Both Sasaki and Roudebush have innovative ideas about how effectively to carry the message of Japanese Internment into the state’s classrooms, and beyond.”

Haruka Roudenbush, a law student and former president of the Nikkei Student Union at the University of California at San Diego, where he earned a bachelor of the arts in political science, has “innovative ideas” already. Many CCLPEP projects, Roudenbush says, are “curriculum based,” but students shrink from traditional, or deductive, teaching methods.  Kids want to plan and implement projects and decide how best to pull in their peers. They welcome activities such as role-playing and collecting oral histories. Hence effective internment-related projects in both K-12 and college classrooms should be inductive, or “interactive,” Roudenbush remarks.

Above all, Roudenbush says, young people are deeply concerned with how the government infringes on the civil liberties of people of many ethnic backgrounds. His insight supports CCLPEP findings from the 2005 conference youth sessions during which young people consistently connected the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans with the post-9/11 experiences of people in the country’s Arab and Muslim communities.

This widening of the CCLPEP message, Roudenbush says, is “the direction in which the program is going.”

CCLPEP, the result of 1999’s California Civil Liberties Public Education Act sponsored by Assembly member Mike Honda, provides competitive grants for public educational activities and educational materials that document the Japanese Internment experience of World War II. 

For more information about CCLPEP contact Trina Dangberg at (916) 653-5862or Elaine Yamaguchi, program director at (916) 6531-0383.


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