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Nikkei Center celebrates city plaza

Group marks 20th anniversary with music, ceremonies

The Japanese American community has a big show coming up, commemorating its long history in Portland

Nonprofit Oregon Nikkei Endowment will present an exhibition, 'Echoes of Struggle and Hope: 20 Years of the Japanese American Historical Plaza,' July 30 to Nov. 14 at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, 121 N.W. Second Ave.

It's part of the endowment's 20th year celebration, and the Japanese American Historical Plaza's rededication ceremony will be held the opening weekend. On Friday, July 30, Oregon Supreme Court Justice W. Michael Gillette and Attorney General John Kroger will be among speakers at 5 p.m., followed by performances by Portland Taiko, Minidoka Swing Band and The Slants at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, July 31, a fund-raising banquet will be held at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

The plaza, which is north of the Burnside Bridge at Waterfront Park, was first dedicated in 1990 as the first memorial to civil rights in the city. The poetry of Lawson Inada and others combines with the work of landscape designer Robert Murase and sculptor Jim Gion to form an intimate respite, remembrance and education place in the city.

The plaza has also won awards for design and purpose.

Additional programs and events will run during the exhibit, and more information can be found at www.oregonnikkei.org or by calling 503-224-1458. Exhibition hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. Sundays. Suggested donation for admission is $3.

The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center is dedicated to the preservation and sharing of Japanese American community history, focusing on internment during World War II and continuing civil rights. Plaza artwork tells the story of immigrants, Japanese Americans, World War II soldiers and business people. Cherry trees dot the landscape, and one of many featured writings on stone has excerpts from the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and an apology for the unlawful imprisonment of Japanese ancestors during World War II.

- Jason Vondersmith