"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."
— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project
Home / Blog / California Humanities in LA: United We Stand, Exploring Little Tokyo and El Pueblo
California Humanities in LA: United We Stand, Exploring Little Tokyo and El Pueblo
September 29, 2023
In mid-September, California Humanities staff came together in Los Angeles for special partner programs and an in-person meeting with our board. Below are some highlights from our trip!
On September 13, Kristen Hayashi, Director of Collections Management & Access and Curator at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), gave staff a special tour of this museum in the heart of Little Tokyo. As the national repository of Japanese American history and California Humanities’ grants recipients, JANM creates engaging public humanities exhibits and public programs, award-winning documentaries, and innovative curriculum that illuminate the stories and the rich cultural heritage of people of Japanese ancestry in the United States.
Hayashi leads staff on a tour the Common Ground exhibition at JANM, which chronicles Japanese American history beginning in the late 1800s and continuing through the World War II incarceration, post-war resettlement, and the redress movement. Photo by Felicia Kelley.
We were also treated to a walking tour of Little Tokyo by Michael Okamura, President of the Little Tokyo Historical Society. Okamura weaved the neighborhood’s rich history with family history, as well as future plans for the area.
We closed out the night with a special partner event at JANM featuring trombonist and composer Jon Hatamiya, son of former California Humanities’ Board Chair Nancy Hatamiya. In a tribute to his mother, who passed away in 2012, Jon and his sextet presented a set of original music exploring his personal connection to the legacy of jazz and improvised music in the Little Tokyo area.
Our special post-event reception celebrated the life and legacy of Nancy Hatamiya. In recognition of her extraordinary service to California Humanities, we created the Nancy Hatamiya Arts & Humanities Fund in support of project that promote the humanities through the visual and performing arts. As we approach October as National Arts and Humanities Month, we remember Nancy as a dedicated family and community member who dedicated her life to public service.
On September 14, we were also treated to a tour of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument by social and cultural historian Bill Estrada, Curator of California and American History and Chair of the History Department at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Located near the site of the early Los Angeles pueblo established in 1781, today El Pueblo is a living museum that serves a unique role as the historic and symbolic heart of the city.
Blanca was a special guest at the program, and spoke about how cooking has become a method of resistance; she and others are cooking missing family members’ favorite dishes as way to preserve their memories and remind the world of the void their absences create.
Watch the program at the link, and stay tuned for more information on our next program in our series with Zócalo later this fall!