ACYC History Day

Ashley Chan, Staff Writer

The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage collaborated with the Arcadia Civic Youth Council (ACYC) to create ACYC History Day. It took place on Feb. 18 at 3:45 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Arcadia High School (AHS). Museum Education Coordinator Brittani Alberto-Shaikh conducted a presentation on the history of the Santa Anita Assembly Center which occurred during World War II. Additionally, curator Stevy Acevedo assisted with post-presentation discussions. This event sought to educate the general public on the history of the Santa Anita Assembly Center which was held at the Santa Anita Park in 1942. 

The year 2022 marks the 80th Anniversary for Executive Order 9066, in which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed off on the government’s right to assemble suspected enemies within America’s borders. More specifically, it authorized the incarceration of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry. The Santa Anita Assembly Center processed thousands of Japanese American individuals and families before transferring them over to more permanent internment camps across America. Assembly centers were immediate and temporary, and emergency camps were constructed by the army. Comparatively, internment camps were places for individuals to be held for an indefinite period of time. 

The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage is home to the Santa Anita Assembly Center’s related artifacts and archival materials. The museum has plenty of books, pictures, posters, artwork, and ephemera that are associated with the internment of Japanese people at the Santa Anita Racetrack. 

AHS sophomore Euan Laru-an helped organize ACYC History Day, and gives us some insight into just how important the event was. 

“I think that it’s important to share information on the Santa Anita Assembly Centers’ history because awareness of the race track’s use as the Santa Anita Assembly Center will allow us to understand Arcadia’s history from a wider perspective, which would hopefully free us from assumptions and biases. Having a better awareness of the Santa Anita Assembly Center will allow us to become more effective members of the community as it emphasizes understanding the dreadful injustices that Japanese-Americans at the time had to suffer through,” Laru-an stated. “In addition, the Santa Anita Assembly Center’s history is essentially Asian American history as well. It’s well known that Arcadia High School has a predominantly Asian population, and the ever-increasing rise of racially motivated hate crimes against the Asian community has taken a toll on a lot of Asian Americans’ mental and emotional health. This is why we think that it’s important for the Santa Anita Assembly Center’s history to be shared as understanding the history of Asian hate in this country will hopefully lead to an enhanced appreciation of Asian American history and a better understanding of the issues Asian Americans are faced today.” 

Thank you to the Gilb Museum and ACYC for arranging ACYC History Day at AHS and spreading much needed awareness and information on the history of the Santa Anita Assembly Center!


Photos by Amanda Chang