The Empty Chair

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Saturday April 2

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2:00 PM  –  4:00 PM

In 1942, Alaska native John Tanaka was going to be the valedictorian of his high school graduating class, but was scheduled to be incarcerated by the U.S. government before the ceremony could take place. In response, the Juneau school board voted to hold a special early graduation ceremony for him. When the official ceremony was held for the class of ’42, they set aside an empty chair on the platform to acknowledge Tanaka’s absence. Tanaka went on to volunteer for service in the all-Japanese American 442 Regimental Combat Team while his family remained in an American concentration camp.

The Empty Chair is a unique documentary film composed of interviews of survivors from that period, rare historical photos, never-before-seen archival footage, U.S. government documentaries, and historical accounts. All of these sources are woven together to draw the viewer back into this little-known chapter of American history. Panel with the filmmakers to follow the screening.

Free with museum admission. RSVPs are recommended using the link below.

This program is free for Museum members and free with general admission for non-members. Please purchase admission at the front desk prior to the event. RSVPs are strongly encouraged using this online form.

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