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National GFBNEC Exhibition Unveils Little-Known History of Peoria, Bradley University
Bradley University, in partnership with the Peoria Public Library, will host “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience” from November 9 to December 13, 2018. The national exhibit, sponsored by Go For Broke National Education Center in Los Angeles, highlights little-known acts of conscience and community by local Peoria residents, Bradley University and other organizations during the turbulent days of World War II.
Funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service, “Courage and Compassion” covers events from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the fateful decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans in wartime camps to the postwar fight for redress. Visitors will learn about the Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) WWII experience and its legacy, engage with questions about what courage looks like during a time of crisis and consider the relevance to today’s society.
During World War II, more than 25,000 Japanese Americans resettled in the Midwest after being forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated in concentration camps far from the West Coast. The majority settled in the Chicago area, but a sizeable number found their way to smaller Midwestern cities like Peoria. From 1943 to 1946, more than 130 Japanese Americans moved to Peoria where they found employment, new homes, and a welcoming local population.
Japanese Americans found a rare opportunity to continue their education at Bradley University (then known as the Bradley Polytechnic Institute) and the Saint Francis Hospital School of Nursing. Although many resettlers left the Peoria area after the war, several families chose to make it their permanent home. The exhibition follows the stories of the Yamada and Kataoka families as they adapt to the harsh Midwestern winters, navigate their new communities, and find acceptance in central Illinois.
The exhibit will be on display November 9 to December 13, 2018 at the Peoria Public Library, 107 NE Monroe, Peoria, IL, 61602, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Gallery on Lower Level 1. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.peoriapubliclibrary.org.
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