Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC)

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC)

GFBNEC educates the public on the character and valor of the Japanese American soldiers of WWII and their contributions to democracy. The Japanese Americans soldiers serving in segregated units fought to prove their loyalty for a nation which did not fight for them. Their story is more relevant than ever

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC)

GFBNEC educates the public on the character and valor of the Japanese American soldiers of WWII and their contributions to democracy. The Japanese Americans soldiers serving in segregated units fought to prove their loyalty for a nation which did not fight for them. Their story is more relevant than ever today, as we engage in national discussions over race and civil liberties, the importance of learning the full history of our nation in schools and the rule of law in our democracy. Founded by veterans who took responsibility to be the primary caretakers of their own history, GFBNEC amplifies the memory of these soldiers and their values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism. Its Hanashi Oral History Collection contains over 1,200 first-person interviews that provide valuable insight into WWII. Housed in a historic temple in Little Tokyo that served as an assembly point for Japanese Americans on their way to American concentration camps, GFBNEC’s interactive exhibition, Defining Courage, explores the concept of courage through the lives of young Japanese Americans during WWII, and asks visitors to act with similar courage in their own lives. The exhibit connects these individual stories to broader contemporary struggles of underrepresented Americans fighting for justice and equity in hopes of a more perfect union. GBNEC’s two newest programs—a high school Journalism Institute and the National Torchbearers Program for young adults— serve to deepen engagement with new audiences while continuing to position the Nisei veteran experience as an important, relevant and compelling American story.

About the Organization:

GFBNEC educates the public on the character and valor of the Japanese American soldiers of WWII and their contributions to democracy. The Japanese Americans soldiers serving in segregated units fought to prove their loyalty for a nation which did not fight for them. Their story is more relevant than ever today, as we engage in national discussions over race and civil liberties, the importance of learning the full history of our nation in schools and the rule of law in our democracy. Founded by veterans who took responsibility to be the primary caretakers of their own history, GFBNEC amplifies the memory of these soldiers and their values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism. Its Hanashi Oral History Collection contains over 1,200 first-person interviews that provide valuable insight into WWII. Housed in a historic temple in Little Tokyo that served as an assembly point for Japanese Americans on their way to American concentration camps, GFBNEC’s interactive exhibition, Defining Courage, explores the concept of courage through the lives of young Japanese Americans during WWII, and asks visitors to act with similar courage in their own lives. The exhibit connects these individual stories to broader contemporary struggles of underrepresented Americans fighting for justice and equity in hopes of a more perfect union. GBNEC’s two newest programs—a high school Journalism Institute and the National Torchbearers Program for young adults— serve to deepen engagement with new audiences while continuing to position the Nisei veteran experience as an important, relevant and compelling American story.

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California

The Issue:

In 1942, Japanese Americans lost their sense of place at the American table of citizenship based on “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership” (excerpt from Personal Justice Denied, Report on Wartime Relocation & Internment of Civilians , 1983). The hope of the Japanese American soldiers of WWII was to ensure the freedoms and liberties for all Americans and for future generations. The largely neglected story of their patriotic service and their contribution to the defeat of fascism are part of a fundamental movement of social justice and civil rights that persists today. Sharing that story more broadly within a contemporary lens, and in the context of other communities’ social movements from across the nation, centers AAPI communities’ historical efforts to democratize the American polity. It also fosters much-needed civic engagement and dialogue in an era in which autocracy is on the rise and democratic institutions are battling to withstand the rising tides of hate we see in attacks on Black Americans, AAPIs, synagogues, Muslims, LGBTQ communities and countless others. Without cohesive community rejection of these attacks and investment in our democratic institutions and values, injustices appear tolerated and authoritarianism flourishes. Too few understand how Nisei soldiers were disenfranchised, stripped of their Constitutional rights and had to demonstrate their loyalty so that their families had a chance in America, just as other communities are now still fighting. Our nation is failing younger generations on how to listen, empathize and engage with differing beliefs, as well as feel the sense of community empowerment, like the Nisei soldiers, to help the U.S. live up to its democratic ideals and form a more perfect union.

The Solution:

GFBNEC doesn’t have the exact solutions, only an impassioned approach of dialogue and pan-racial solidarity work to collectively help fulfill America’s promise—to illuminate the invisible, amplify the voices of the marginalized and empower the disenfranchised. This happens through interactive education that connects the past to the present, highlights the common bonds and inspires civic engagement by drawing on the efforts of those who were before us. GFBNEC plays a unique role as the trusted steward of the Nisei soldiers’ story of courage, patriotism and sacrifice. To ensure that current and future generations embody their commitment to others and democratic ideals, GFBNEC provides NextGen civic engagement programming such as the Torchbearers Program. This program brings together young adults to “Listen, Empathize and Engage” in social issues facing our nation and its various regions, and bring back the skills and leadership to pursue meaningful discussion about such issues locally. As GFBNEC educates the public on a little-known chapter in American history with in-person and virtual programming geared towards multi-generational, multi-ethnic audiences, it also highlights the relevance of the civil liberties, racial intolerance and discrimination faced by the soldiers to today’s social justice dynamics. GFBNEC’s high school Journalism Institute, a partnership with the Asian American Journalists Association and LAUSD, for example, asks students to consider how the Japanese American WWII incarceration was covered by past mainstream publications, and the role of journalists in covering similar events today. With violence against marginalized communities on the rise, GFBNEC is even more intent on connecting the past to the present through key partnerships within other communities. In 2022, GFBNEC brought its traveling exhibition to the Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum, and in May 2023, GFBNEC staff and Torchbearers had a joint visit with the American Jewish Committee Los Angeles and other community advocates to Manzanar, one of the 10 American WWII concentration camps. As GFBNEC further develops its offerings, it will continue to foster open discussions, create learning opportunities centered on other ethnic and cultural histories, find the common ground that will bridge all Americans together and give a voice to those who are voiceless.

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