Ona Wang Participates in Historic Reenactment at National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Convention

News / July 16, 2013

On July 11, 13 members of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) reenacted the prosecutions of 63 Japanese-Americans who refused to report for the draft until their rights as U.S. citizens were restored. The men had been interned at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in northwest Wyoming during World War II.

"As a limited rights citizen, I protest my drafting into the selective service," White Collar Defense Partner Ona Wang, read from a March 1944 letter written by a young Japanese-American to his local draft board in Palo Alto, Calif. "I want to be a free citizen enjoying full citizenship status, enjoying all the rights and privileges of an American citizen before I enter the military service."

For the past six years, AABANY has been reenacting historic events in Asian-American legal history via hour-long performances at the annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association convention. The scripts incorporate key parts of original trial transcripts, court briefs, historic photographs, newspaper articles and letters. Performances stay true to what actually happened—right down to racial slurs used by judges and prosecutors as reflected in trial transcripts and documents.

The New York Law Journal recapped the event on July 16 (“Bar Uses Historical Reenactments as 'Teaching Tool'”).