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Local Libraries Focus on Democracy, War in Upcoming Programs

Libraries in El Cerrito, Kensington and other West Contra Costa County cities will host readings, music, films and discussions in September and October on democracy and war, including the Japanese-American experience in World War II.

Local Libraries Focus on Democracy, War in Upcoming Programs

West County libraries are joining a statewide initiative of civic engagement with 20 events centered on the themes of democracy and war. The events — spread among the El Cerrito, Kensington, Pinole, Hercules and other branches — will include visits from authors, discussions, films and cultural celebrations. Occurring almost daily, they will begin on Sept. 6 and end on October 27.

"Searching for Democracy — California Reads in West County" will focus on two novels. "Farewell to Manzanar" by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston is about growing up in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II. "Lost City Radio" by Daniel Alarcon looks at war's "damaging effects on society and the individual," according to a news release.

Free copies of the books will be available at select branch libraries. The program relies on a grant from the California Council for the Humanities. Videos of  interviews with the two authors are available on the council's website.

Among the 20 events, the first is a presentation of the Pinole Historical Society and the library. It is titled "Internment Memories: Japanese-American Life During World War II." It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 6 at the Kaiser Medical office building in Pinole.

Other events include:

  • A free concert, "Julio Bravo and the Sounds of Peru" will be at 3 p.m. on Sept. 8 in at Refugio Valley Park in Hercules. Other events include:
  • A talk by Delphine Hirasuna, author of "The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946." Gaman is a Japanese word that means "endurance, patience, persistence, forbearance and dignity in the face of pain, frustration and adversity." This talk will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the Kensington Library.
  • A panel will discuss personal stories about the order to evacuate all people of Japanese ancestry away from the West Coast. It will will held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 at the El Cerrito Library.
  • Traditional Japanese Koto muisc at 1 p.m. on Sept. 15 at the Pinole Library.
  • Screening of the documentary film, "Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story," with Karen Korematsu and Ling Liu, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the El Cerrito Library.
  • A panel discussion about Japanese-American nurseries in Richmond and a screening of "Blossoms & Thorns" A Community Uprooted" at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the El Cerrito Library.
  • University of San Francisco Professor Brian Komei Dempster and four former Japanese American concentration camp internees will share their first-person stories at 2 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Kensington Library.

For the complete list of events, times, dates and locations, see the attached document. All of the events are free and open to the public.

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