Sam Mihara, a national speaker on mass imprisonment and a lecturer at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Harvard University, was asked to visit School of the Holy Child February 22 to participate in the school’s IDEA initiative. The initiative promotes inclusion, diversity, equity, advocacy, and social justice through ongoing community conversations and interactive workshops.

Monique Gordon-Anefal, director of the IDEA Committee, explained that Mr. Mihara was invited to share his experiences with the community in keeping with this year’s theme: “Love thy neighbor, welcome the stranger.”

Mihara began his presentation with a quote from former President George W. Bush: “A great nation does not hide its history.” During his illuminating remarks, he talked about his time as a prisoner at the Heart Mountain Japanese Prison Camp in Powell, Wyoming, during World War II. Forced into the prison camp along with his family when he was 9, Mihara offered harrowing details about his time in the camp, and connected his experience to contemporary debates in the United States about civil rights. About 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned, half of whom were American citizens, he noted.

He stressed the importance of studying American history so as not to repeat our mistake, and concluded with the sentiment: “Never Forget, Never Again.”

Mrs. Gordon-Anefal, Christian Theology and World Religions teacher, said students found Mr. Mihara’s presentation “inspirational and informative” and while they were surprised and saddened by his story, they were optimistic that the United States can “grow and learn from our past mistakes.”

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Sam Mihara speaking at Holy Child last month