Lowell Lecture

Our Story: Cultural Legacies of Japanese American Incarceration

Date & Time

Sept. 11, 2023 at 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.


John F. Kennedy Library
Columbia Point Boston, MA 02125
Driving Directions


Moderator - Nina Yoshida Nelsen, Boston Lyric Opera Artistic Advisor and Mezzo-Soprano; Panelists - Paul Chihara, Composer; Michael Sakamoto, Choreographer; Erin Aoyama, Scholar, American Studies;

Presenting Organization

John F. Kennedy Library


The Arts History Humanities Music


Kennedy Library Forum Team (jfkforums@nara.gov, 617-514-1643)

Join Japanese American artists, scholars, and advocates for a discussion about the lasting cultural legacy of the United States’ forced mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Moderated by artist and advocate Nina Yoshida Nelsen, the evening will share firsthand accounts and family stories of individuals who endured this historic violation of civil rights, while also shining a light on the creativity and community they nurtured during and after incarceration. Panelists Paul Chihara (composer), Michael Sakamoto (choreographer), and Erin Aoyama (historian) will also give voice to the many ways that incarcerated individuals and their descendants have grappled with this legacy in opera, music, dance, drama, and other forms of cultural expression. The evening will include a short program of contemporary musical performances that are in dialogue with this history, followed by Q&A.

This program complements the Kennedy Library’s new special exhibit Service and Sacrifice: World War II - A Shared Experience and Boston Lyric Opera’s upcoming production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, reimagined with Japanese American and Asian American artists into an American World War II-era setting. This discussion continues the conversation BLO began with "The Butterfly Process," an in-depth community conversation that centered Asian American voices in examining the history and legacy of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

The Kennedy Library’s special exhibit Service and Sacrifice: World War II - A Shared Experience, which includes photographs taken by Ansel Adams at Manzanar War Relocation Center and artifacts from Manzanar National Historic Site, will be open free of charge from 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Food and drink will be available for purchase, and our Museum Store will be open.