black and white photo of a very young Japanese girl waiting with luggage on train platform

Exhibit: Nikkeijin Illinois

In Nikkeijin Illinois, multifaceted stories of Japanese immigrants and their descendants are offered through the lens of former and current students, faculty, and staff of the University of Illinois. These dynamic histories provide meaning towards why understanding the past is important to the present.

One thread of the exhibition connects histories of exclusion and anti-Asian hate to current reports of violence and hate crimes inflicted upon Asian and Asian-Americans that upset our contemporary news headlines. Another platform will serve to amplify Japanese American voices of today. By highlighting Japanese Americans at Illinois, we center histories of struggle and perseverance for Nikkeijin—those of Japanese American heritage—on campus and in our community, creating new resonance within spaces we may frequent today.

The exhibit also provides a concise overview of the greater Japanese American experience.

  • the pre-war years;
  • anti-Japanese propaganda, Pearl Harbor and U.S. Entry into World War II;
  • the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during war;
  • those who volunteered for U.S. service and others segregated as disloyal;
  • relocation and migration across the country during and after the war; and
  • the groundbreaking work towards redress and reparations.

Image Credit: Yuki Okinaga (later Yuki Llewellyn (external link)) waits with the family baggage before leaving by bus for an assembly center in the spring of 1942. By Clem Albers, California, April 1942. (Photo No. 210-G-2A-6). Courtesy of the National Archives.

a general view of quarters for evacuees of Japanese ancestry who will be transferred later to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war.


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To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please contact Brian Cudiamat at or (217) 244-5586.