MotorCities National Heritage Area

Exiled to Detroit: A History of Japanese Americans in Detroit

Additional Info

  • Event Title: Exiled to Motown: A History of Japanese Americans in Detroit
  • Event Date(s): Now through Sunday, October 3, 2021
  • Event Location: Detroit Historical Museum
  • Event Description: Japanese Americans have been hard at work and play in the Detroit area for over a hundred years, finding ways to celebrate a distinctly Midwestern Japanese American culture while chasing American dreams. After being forcibly removed from the Pacific coast and imprisoned in the inland West during World War II, some Japanese Americans sought to begin life anew in cities far from home, like Detroit. There was a dark side to these Rustbelt refuges, however: The U.S. government felt that Japanese Americans would pose no threat to American society - and perhaps even assimilate completely - if they were scattered across the Midwest in numbers smaller than in the booming Japantowns of Seattle or California. Starting a new life in Detroit was supposed to mean starting life without a Japanese American community, and leaving that culture behind forever. Drawing on oral histories conducted by the Japanese American Citizen League Detroit Chapter as well as archival photographs, documents and family heirlooms lent by community members, Exiled To Motown delves into rich histories of labor, race and belonging in Detroit. From the Ford Motor Company to World War II, the murder of Vincent Chin and Japanese-Arab American solidarity in the wake of 9/11, Exiled To Motown sheds light on a little-known but critical piece of American history.