Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center:
There are few people in today’s public forum that have made cultural and political impact like that of George Takei. From his iconic role as Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, to his deep involvement in obtaining a redress of Japanese Americans who were forced into relocation during World War II, to his fervent fight for LGBT rights, George has proven himself to be a force to reckon with. Plus, his cat memes are awesome!!!George and Brad Takei graced us with their presence at the DC Film Premiere of To Be Takei, a new documentary starring the couple. We also found some time to show him some powerful pieces from the Smithsonian collection (thanks to National Museum of American History curators Noriko Sanefuji and Katherine Ott!) and hung with him backstage. Join our play-by-play!The evening kicked off with a special reception to honor our friends and supporters. As you can see, Brad Takei thoroughly enjoyed the regal wallpaper at the VIP room. The WB Theater was packed for To Be Takei! Our director Konrad Ng, along with Daphne Kwok – AARP Vice President of Multicultural Markets & Engagement for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience – introduced George, and then the man of the hour came out to introduce the film. While the film played, we took George and Brad upstairs to view some items selected by NMAH curators, including the Congressional Gold Medal for Nisei World War II veterans. Irene Hirano Inouye, President of the U.S.-Japan Council, Daphne Kwok, and Floyd Mori, President of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies joined them while Noriko and Katherine led a conversation around pieces from Japanese American families who were forced to relocate during World War II, as well as items from the National Museum of American History’s LGBT collection. Powerful pieces included artifacts from Rohwer Confinement Site, where George was incarcerated as a boy before his family was sent to Tule Lake. Backstage, George sat down with Adriel Luis, our Curator of Digital and Emerging Media, to talk about how his career has been driven by a range of influences – from old Samurai films to African American civil rights leaders. Senator Mazie Hirono stopped by to say “Hello.” After the film, George and Brad went back to the auditorium to participate in a Q&A moderated by Gautam Raghavan, Public Engagement Advisor for the White House.
We had a spectacular time with George and Brad! Check out a trailer of his film below, and stay tuned for more amazing events!