'And Then They Came for Us' brings history into the present

The Humanities Institute event poster

The Humanities Institute and Cowell College will present a special screening of And Then They Came for Us, March 14, at the Del Mar Theater in downtown Santa Cruz.

Winner of the Accolade Global Film 2017 Humanitarian Award, the film recounts how 75 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 during World War II began the process of violating the constitutional rights of 120,000 Japanese Americans--resulting in their mass removal from the West Coast and incarceration behind barbed wire.

Featuring rediscovered photographs by Dorothea Lange, And Then They Came For Us connects history with the present, by retelling this story and then showing Japanese American activists speaking out today against a Muslim registry and travel ban.  

After the screening, a panel discussion will take place featuring the film’s co-producer and co-director Abby Ginzberg, who has won numerous awards for her documentaries on race and social justice issues.

It will also include Donald Tamaki--a lawyer who served on the pro bono team that reopened the landmark Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States, overturning Fred Korematsu’s conviction for refusing as an American citizen to be incarcerated on account of his racial ancestry; and Ammad Rafiqi, a civil rights attorney with the Council on American Islamic Relations.

“The audience will hear about how the film has inspired activists around the country, Donald Tamaki’s work on an amicus curiae brief opposing the Trump travel ban, and Ammad Rafiqi’s work helping victims of hate crimes,” said UC Santa Cruz history professor and Stevenson provost Alice Yang, who will serve as moderator for the panel.

Yang added that she hopes the film will help attendees learn about the power of activism--both in the past and the present.

“It took decades for many Japanese Americans to resurrect painful memories about the World War II incarceration,” Yang noted. “Many of these activists credited the civil rights and ethnic pride movements with encouraging them to fight for redress that led to the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that provided a national apology, individual compensation of $20,000, and the creation of an educational fund.”

“The commitment and dedication of these activists, including many who are now in their 80s and 90s, is truly inspiring and shows the power of coalition-building to confront discrimination, defend democracy, and prevent historical injustices from being repeated,” she added.

This event is part of The Humanities Institute’s Freedom and Race Series.

WATCH TRAILER for And Then They Came for Us.


The film screening of "And Then They Came for Us," followed by a panel discussion moderated by UC Santa Cruz history professor Alice Yang, will take place on March 14, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Del Mar Theater in Santa Cruz. This is a free event, but registration is required. Presented by The Humanities Institute and Cowell College, and co-sponsored by the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, CRES, Stevenson College, the History Department, and McHenry Library. For more information, contact The Humanities Institute at thi@ucsc.edu or (831) 459-1274.