The mission of the JACL Heritage Center (JACL/HC) is to collect, maintain and preserve the Japanese cultural legacy of the Monterey Peninsula. At the core of this mission is the Heritage Project museum which houses artifacts, images and documents that collectively define the local cultural history of the Issei, Nisei and following generations. The museum and archives are community resources to increase understanding of the impact of the wartime experience on the post-1945 lives of the Issei and Japanese Americans of the Monterey Peninsula in terms of jobs, housing, education and social adaptation. The museum is located in the JACL Hall at 424 Adams Street, Monterey, California.
Founded in 2008, the JACL/HC is committed to developing a local resource center that houses artifacts and documents that explain the Issei and Nisei contributions in many fields: fishing our oceans for abalone and sardines; farming the rich land; working in canneries on Cannery Row; operating retail fish businesses on old Fisherman's Wharf; mixing business and social life in old nihonmachi, and competing in sports. A current, unfolding project will present historical photographs, artifacts, and architectural models that document life in the internment camps during WWII.
JACL/HC also sponsors programs and projects that are consistent with our mission of furthering cultural understanding. In 2012, the program, Honor the Nisei, recognized the many contributions by this second generation of Japanese Americans in athletic, occupational and professional walks of life. By honoring the Nisei, future generations will have role models to follow; by highlighting the Nisei achievements, bonds with the larger peninsula community can be forged. In 2015, The Heritage Center presented a program, Gaman: Coping with Adversity,that brought together three distinguished authors and a widely acclaimed playwright. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (Farewell to Manzanar), Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye), Paul M. Tag (How Much Do You Love Me?), and Luis Valdez, noted playwright and founder of Teatro Campesino, discussed their works and the relevance of cultural values and historical lessons for contemporary society.
In 2015 JACL/HC launched a documentary film, called Profiles in Courage and Compassion, based on the discovery of original petitions printed in the Monterey Herald in May of 1945. These petitions, signed by 434 local citizens, advocated a "Democratic Way of Life" while welcoming back Japanese American families to the Monterey Peninsula following years of confinement in WWII internment camps. When completed around the late summer of 2017, JACL/HC will make every effort to include this documentary film in California's statewide curriculum and distributed for television broadcast.
As our programs grow we will look to interested students and community members to share your talents and knowledge with us. When we open the museum and archives to the public and to students in our peninsula schools and colleges we will need volunteer docents who can assist visitors by explaining our history, culture and museum exhibits and facilitate the use of archival materials. We hope to work with and encourage educational institutions to grant credit for fulfilling community service and academic requirements.