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.