Reckoning with Our Racial Past in Los Angeles

A man holding a microphone faces an audience of people in the background.

Three downtown Los Angeles museums presented a collaborative series of public programs in connection with the Smithsonian initiative in December 2023. With programs that ranged from symposia and panel discussions to films, food, and family activities, Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past in Los Angeles highlights the dynamic, challenging, and multicultural nature of the arts in Los Angeles.

Watch the events from public programs held December 1-17, 2023:

Conversations on Race: Opening the Dialogue

The opening session looked at the intersection of race, wealth, wellness, and the arts in Los Angeles.

Exhibition: Broken News

Broken News uses historic newspaper articles to detail the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment in Los Angeles in the late 1800s. The exhibition examines how sensationalized headlines were used to enforce stereotypes, resulting in discrimination and violence against disenfranchised populations. 

Plática: American Latinos in Hollywood—Struggles and Achievements in Film and TV

A panel made up of A-List American Latino Filmmakers and film artists discusses their careers within the business of Hollywood and the creation of culturally impactful on-screen representations in the multi-platform media age.

Cross Cultural Cuisine: The Art of Bringing People Together

Watch a conversation with restaurateurs, chefs, entrepreneurs, and culture commentators that explores cross-cultural influences on ethnic cuisine in America.

Film Screening: Backstreet to the American Dream

Watch a recording of a conversation between Patricia Nazario, director and producer of the film Backstreet to the American Dream (2021, 90 minutes), Dr. Alvaro Huerta, Religion and Public Life Organizing Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and Associate Professor at Cal Poly Pomona, and June Berk, a JANM Volunteer and WWII US concentration camp survivor. The panel discusses the classic American Dream through food trucks and is a lively conversation around food, race, and Los Angeles.

Shared Pathways to Heal, Repair, Liberate

On Tuesday, December 5, 2023, JANM and the Democracy Center welcomed a program focusing on the current fight for reparation for Black Americans in California. The program was presented with the California Black Freedom Fund and Philanthropy California. The program looked at what could be gained from sharing and exploring parallel and interwoven fights for liberation and civil rights in this country, particularly between the Black and Japanese American communities.

Our Shared Future Family Day

On Sunday, December 17, 2023, the three collaborative partners each hosted a day of family programming at their locations. Joint marketing and advertising for the event encouraged families to explore all three museums. We partnered with Metro, Los Angeles County’s municipal transportation system, to inform people of how to use the light rail system and the new Regional Rail Connector to go from Union Station (serving CAM/La Plaza) to the Little Tokyo Station (serving JANM)—just one stop away.