In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union

Each year on Martin Luther King Day of Service, ArtsEd4All officially launches the Blake Mini Library Book Drive. Founded in December 2013 by then six-year old Blake Ansari in New York City, Blake Mini Library supports the reading, writing and science literacy of children ages birth to 21 living in homes for runaways, homeless shelters and foster care. Here on the West Coast in San Francisco, we’ve shared our love of books and reading with the children and families at the Hamilton Families shelter in the Tenderloin since 2016.

In 2022, we are pleased to kick off the 7th Annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive with a special online film screening of OBAMA: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union. This three-part documentary chronicling the personal and political journey of President Barack Obama is available to registered viewers via View on Demand. Please RSVP on Eventbrite to receive a link and password enabling FREE unlimited access to our virtual screening room from Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service through Presidents’ Day — Monday, January 17, 2022 at 12 noon PST to Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 12 noon PST.

The New 3Rs

It is especially exciting to present this film in partnership with The New 3Rs, an educational program that uses stories of social justice to dismantle racism. The New 3Rs educates and empowers through the art of social justice storytelling, building relationships, and fostering a sense of responsibility. By offering programs and resources, the organization educates and empowers children, parents, educators, and workplace leaders through a lens of racial justice and racial awareness.

“The New 3RS is a diverse group. We listen to each other’s stories. We talk about the great things Black people gave the world and racial topics that usually are not taught in school. The New 3Rs gives me hope and strength. And for that, I am grateful!”

— Donovan, age 13

Learn more about The New 3Rs at https://thenew3rs.org/

Students of The New 3Rs, including Blake Mini Library founder Blake Ansari, plan to participate by viewing the film. The students will select a racial inequity issue from The New 3Rs curriculum and envision how they or their nation can become a more perfect union in areas such as education, health, environment, and other topics of concern? The New 3Rs will create A More Perfect Union Anthology that will share student essays and art which they will send to Congressional Black Caucus and President Biden in late spring.

Download The New 3Rs 2019-2020 Student Anthology HERE.

Take Action: My School Votes!

When We All Vote is a leading national, nonpartisan initiative on a mission to change the culture around voting and to increase participation in each and every election by helping to close the race and age gap. Created by Michelle Obama, When We All Vote brings together individuals, institutions, brands, and organizations to register new voters across the country and advance civic education for the entire family and voters of every age to build an informed and engaged electorate for today and generations to come. https://whenweallvote.org/

My School Votes is an action-oriented civics program where students learn by doing, to build student leadership, advocate for local issues, create exceptional voter registration campaigns, and together, launch young people into cycles of life-long civic engagement.

Geared towards children in Kindergarten through 5th, Parent Read Alouds feature Michelle Obama, WWAV co-chairs, and parents from around the country reading civics themed children’s literature paired with tangible learning opportunities for parents to engage in with their children.

“Change only happens when ordinary people get involved” – @BarackObama.

Find resources and tools here: bit.ly/ObamaSeriesTakeAction


ArtsEd4All invites young artists to design a one-word poster reminding grown ups of the importance of voting. The poster criteria: The one word, VOTE, should be big, clear and visible. The rest, images & media, size is up to you. Parents can share photos of poster art (no faces, hands only please) and credit the artists with first name & last initial, age & city of residence.


Fill Yourself with Hope

President Obama and daughter Malia and Sasha watch Michelle Obama deliver her speech to the Democratic National Convention from the White House Treaty Room, September 4, 2012 (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Each year, former President Barack Obama releases a list of favorite books, music and films, and we enjoy doing the same! We hope that you will enjoy our recommended reading list compiled for this year’s 2022 Blake Mini Library book drive.

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you.  If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” 

― Barack Obama

Angel Island Insight #6: Mark Shigenaga

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


Although photography had always been a casual interest of mine, it wasn’t until 2008, when capturing the energy and joyful expressions of the dancers at the Berkeley Obon, did I realize my passion for this activity. It is through this continued pursuit of photography that I have connected to many local ethnic communities, deepened an interest in my Japanese American heritage, and engaged many culturally active artists, activists, and historians.  While my photographic style continues to evolve, I’m most inspired by images that portray the vibrancy and soul of our collective communities, whether through the sharing of various art forms, celebrations, or remembrances.

MARK SHIGENAGA, Community Photographer


Photo: Mark Shigenaga. Filming day on Angel Island with Claudia Katanayagi for A Bitter Legacy, 2012.
Mark Shigenaga

In 2014, I helped photo document the 1st Nikkei Angel Island Pilgrimage, an event sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation, with AIISF, the National Japanese American Historical Society, California Genealogical Society, and the California Park Services as partners.  It was during this pilgrimage that I met Grant Din.  A chance discussion subsequently led to an exploration of my grandfather Kakuro and great uncle Shigeo’s history on this island, who were shipped from Hawaii to California and destined to become interned at various Department of Justice camps a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Grant’s access to the National Archives and Records Administration led to a wealth of new insights to the journeys of the Shigenaga brothers, and are, today, cherished by our family. 

— Mark Shigenaga, May 18, 2021.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #3: Lenore Chinn

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.

Photo: Lenore Chinn. Angel Island Immigration Station Dedication Ceremony for The Immigrant Heritage Wall. July 23, 2011. 
Photo: Lenore Chinn. Angel Island Immigration Station Dedication Ceremony for The Immigrant Heritage Wall. July 23, 2011. 

“Quite a few years ago I was with Flo Oy Wong and family during a 2000 opening of her art exhibit, made in usa: Angel Island Shhh at the Angel Island Immigration Station.

I couldn’t find any image files from that far back. But today I came across a set I had taken years later on the occasion of a dedication there on July 23, 2011. Again, I was there with Flo and family and quite a few notables from our Chinese American community, like Buck Gee, Board President of AIISF, musician Frances Wong and photographer Frank Jang. Historian Judy Yung, who died last month, was in attendance.”

— Lenore Chinn, January 17, 2021


Lenore Chinn
by Mia Nakano, ©Visibility Project. https://www.visibilityproject.org/

LENORE CHINN

I am a San Francisco based artist who focuses on the depiction of a wide spectrum of people in all their diversity and color.

Portraiture is at the core of my visual art practice whether it is painting or photography – both are employed in my creative process.

A moment in time spontaneously captured by my digital bridge camera, transmitted to acrylic on canvas, conveyed in modern archival print or Shared on Facebook, these images document everyday life.

As a body of work they are visual narratives that constitute an art history largely hidden from the public’s perception of society and our particular collective experience.

My focus as a photographer is capturing images and documenting cultural landscapes from a painter’s point of view.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Angel Island Insight #1 : AIISF & Del Sol Quartet

ANGEL ISLAND IN SIGHT 2021 is a visual storytelling project focused on Angel Island — a collective portrait of Angel Island drawn from a multitude of views — near and far, past and present. Del Sol Performing Arts Organization’s ANGEL ISLAND INSIGHT explores the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station by offering a suite of virtual and in-person programs that examines the musicality of the disappearing Hoisan-wa dialect by The Last Hoisan Poets and The Del Sol Quartet. public engagement with Del Sol Quartet & Huang Ruo’s Angel Island – Oratorio for Voices and Strings.


“While there are inscriptions by immigrants from many different nations that can still be found on the walls of the detention barracks, it’s the 200+ poems left behind by Chinese detainees that helped to save the site’s buildings from being torn down and that secured the site’s status as both a California Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. These poems give us a glimpse into the emotions and experiences of immigrants who were held in detention then.”

Edward Tepporn, Executive Director, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation


Photo: Edward Tepporn. Angel Island Chinese Monument. July 20, 2019.

ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION FOUNDATION (AIISF) raises awareness of the experience of Immigration into America through the Pacific. AIISF collects and preserves the rich stories and personal journeys of thousands of immigrants and shares them with visitors and everyone living in America through education initiatives and public programs. The Angel Island Immigration Station reminds us of the complicated history of immigration in America. It serves as a symbol of our willingness to learn from our past to ensure that our nation keeps its promise of liberty and freedom.

Photo: Russell Nauman. Return to Angel Island – Calvin Ong (Ong Doon). June 26, 2021.

In 1937, ten-year-old Calvin Ong (Ong Doon) was detained on Angel Island by immigration officials on his way into the country. Eighty-four years later—on June 26, 2021—Calvin returned to the U.S. Immigration Station with his family. He briefly spoke about his time as a detainee, and a hospital patient, on Angel Island. 

In this photo, Calvin was looking out the window of the former immigration hospital when he noticed the hillside below. He could remember sitting on the hill and watching the ferry arrive with new immigrants each day. Later, we went outside so Calvin could look out over the water with his children and grandchildren.

— Russell Nauman, Operations Manager, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation


THE DEL SOL QUARTET revels in the risk of constantly reimagining the string quartet, building community around art, artistic process, our environment and our culture. Supported by the nonprofit Del Sol Performing Arts Organization (DSPAO), the Del Sol Quartet shares living music with an ever-growing community of adventurous listeners.

Committed to advancing art’s place in society and providing access to a diverse range of audience, the Quartet focuses on commissioning and performing new works, forming unusual and provocative collaborations, and sharing its work globally through recording and education projects.

THE ANGEL ISLAND ORATORIO PROJECT fits squarely into Del Sol’s tradition of adventurous collaborations between artists and community organizations to create new work with a lasting place in the repertoire and to broaden audiences. These goals are integrally connected to shared experiences and socially-relevant themes. The oratorio provides a new way of examining immigration and the clash between governmental policies and national ideals — relevant both to our history and our current political climate. The work also reflects our individual values of what it means to be American, the stories of how we got here, and the history of our city and state.

Photo: Kathryn Bates, View on Island. 2021.
Photo: Edward Tepporn. Angel Island Immigration Station Barracks. July 20, 2019.
Photo: Kathryn Bates. View of Island. March 13, 2021.
Photo: Kathryn Bates. View from Island. March 13, 2021.
Photo: Edward Tepporn. Hope. Angel Island. June 16, 2019.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ANGEL ISLAND: IN SIGHT 2021 at the Angel Island Immigration Station is made possible with support from North East Medical Services (NEMS). https://www.nems.org/

Read Across America 2021

Happy Read Across America Day!

In normal times, today is the day that we would be delivering the Blake Mini Library book donations to be enjoyed by the young readers in celebration of Read Across America Day. But as you know, the times are anything but normal.

Thanks to Christina and the fantastic team at Hamilton Families, we were able to find a way to help fill a need. The shelter was in need of Spanish language books.

Vijay knows it’s cool to know another language.
from ¡Solo Pregunta! (Just Ask!) by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael López

We are happy to report that thanks to the generosity of community. We received the email this afternoon from First Book confirming that our shipment of 100 Spanish Language children’s books is on its way! We would like to offer our deepest thanks to the following individuals for their generous support of the 2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive.

Young Wong
Tony Fong
Patrick Wu
Dennis Austria
Noel Santos
Sam Hom
Victor Yan
Alan Hom
Dennis Dong
Andy Kwong
Loangle Newsome
Karl Chan
Jill Haw
Karin Rylander
Frank Bravo
Olga Kiselev
Kim Altamero

Felicia Westphal
Frank Obi
Gurneet Kaur
Edgar Cardenas
Brentyn Carder
Chris Wong
Aida Austria
Tony Miranda
Jun Merced
Mao Elma
Noel Asiatico
Jerry Poblador
Stephen Macasero
Paul Campbell
Dori Garcia Campbell
Teresa Proano & Family Ruby Roque Quan

Theng Mangabat
Ryan & Michelle Wong
Cindy Castronovo
Jon Wong
Jelin Hoh
Airene Austria
Joey Jao
Emmanuel
Alan Merced
Aldrin Austria
Todd Fong
Debbie Fong
Jan Willemse
Jamie Willemse
Olivia Hicks
Charles & Nuria Higueras
Alex Higueras

“How do you use your voice?”
Rafael López’s delightful illustrations enliven Sonia Sotomayor’s ¡Solo Pregunta! (Just Ask!)

¿Cómo usas tu voz? (How do you use your voice?)

In celebration of Read Across America Day, we started working on a new project –  a way to safely celebrate reading together. Today, we are inviting friends to help to record a short reading from Sonia Sotomayor’s wonderfully story for young children, in both Spanish (¡Solo Pregunta!) and English (Just Ask!). 

If you would like to help to record either the Spanish or English Language text for one of the characters in the book, please reach out and let us know that you would like to help by recording a reading for this special Read Across America Day project.

Readers are using the voice memo app on their phones or downloading a free app such as Audacity to record their readings in a quiet spot. Once we receive all of the audio files, the individual readings will be used to create one community read aloud file which we will share with the shelter.

A big thank you to our community of read aloud volunteers:

Alec Hawley, Antigone Trimis, Audrey Pasillas, Charles Higueras, Charlton Lee, Joanie Juster, Kathryn Bates, Linda Higueras, Maggy Frias, Mara Grimes, Maribel Pasillas, Miriam Magaña, Norma Rodriguez, Nuria Higueras, Pat Zamora, Rosa Rodriguez Perry and Tara Cartegena.

If you are interested in joining this project, we are keeping track of the people who have volunteered to read HERE, where you can see which characters are spoken for so far.

If you know of anyone who would really enjoy reading for this project, please invite them to join us for Read Across America Day. We welcome and celebrate community participation!

“There are uses to adversity, and they don’t reveal themselves until tested. Whether it’s serious illness, financial hardship, or the simple constraint of parents who speak limited English, difficulty can tap unexpected strengths.” – Sonia Sotomayor

2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

Every year, since 2016 when the small rainbow-colored library was first built and donated by San Francisco school children to the homeless shelter, ArtsEd4All has hosted the annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive benefitting the Hamilton Families. Our connection to this philanthropic effort began in 2014, after reading a story about a 6-year old boy in New York City named Blake Ansari who began a book drive with the support of his family and friends. Our annual Blake Mini Library book drive in San Francisco is typically held from Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to Valentine’s Day, with delivery to the shelter taking place on Read Across America Day. The project presents an opportunity for people of all ages to work together to share a love of reading through small acts of kindness that also encourage and support the philanthropic efforts of school children.

The 2020 Blake Mini Library Book Drive was one of the last in-person events of 2020 where we were able to work with children, prior to the closing of San Francisco public schools due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, thanks to the efforts of students and community at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, we delivered 800 books with handwritten notes of encouragement to the shelter in March.

2020 was a year unlike any other, and we knew that it would be highly unlikely that we would be able to host the book drive as we usually do this year in 2021. We explored alternatives, such as direct purchase and shipment of books, but soon learned from the shelter that there are additional issues of capacity and storage to consider for organizations operating under these challenging present conditions.

¡Vámonos! Let’s Go!

This year: A new challenge for the 2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

In searching for a way to best help with pressing needs, we learned that there is a shortage of Spanish language books for children at the shelter. After confirming the shelter’s storage capacity, we are happy to share that we will be able to support the children at Hamilton Families with a Spanish language book drive.

For the Shelter:

  • 0-3y= 20 books
  • 3-5y= 20 books
  • 5-8y=10 books

For Transitional Housing:

  • 0-3y= 20 books
  • 3-5y= 20 books
  • 5-8y=10 books

We seek 49 sponsors who will pledge to donate $5 each towards the purchase Spanish language books for the children at the Hamilton Families.

After pricing the costs for an order of 100 Spanish Language children’s books from First Book, we have come up with this modest, but meaningful goal. While we are unable to work directly with children this year in support of their acts of kindness, we hope to continue supporting these efforts again in the future. We welcome your participation in this year’s Blake Mini Library Book Drive and thank you for sharing your love of reading with the children at Hamilton Families.

For more, visit the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families project page.

A Special Encore Screening: THE ANTIDOTE

In celebration of
WORLD KINDNESS DAY on November 13th,

Please Join Us for a Special Encore Screening of:

The film will be available for viewing over a three-day screening period, from Friday, November 13 at 7:30am ET/4:30am PT through Sunday, November 15, 11:30pm PT.

Please register on Eventbrite to receive the link and password to the private screening room. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/artsed4all-presents-an-encore-screening-of-the-antidote-tickets-128303508247

We hope that you will enjoy sharing this film with friends, family, or any organizations that might be interested the power of kindness, empathy and community. Please feel free to use this invitation HERE.

We also invite you to join ArtsEd4All for a community conversation about sharing SIMPLE GIFTS of creativity and kindness this holiday season on Saturday, November 14th at 4:00 pm PT / 7:00 pm ET.

Made in response to the times we are living in, THE ANTIDOTE is a feature documentary that weaves together stories of kindness and decency in America—a choral essay about people who are making intentional choices to lift others up. Directed by Academy Award-nominee, Kahane Cooperman, and six-time Emmy winner, John Hoffman, THE ANTIDOTE aims to drive a national conversation about the roles that kindness, decency, compassion and respect play in a civilized, democratic society.

ArtsEd4ll presents “THE ANTIDOTE”

ArtsEd4All invites you to join a special screening of THE ANTIDOTE on Saturday, October 24th, beginning at 3:30pm PST / 6:30pm EST. After the film, please join us for a community conversation about kindness, education and the arts.

Please register on Eventbrite to receive your invitation to the ArtsEd4All screening room. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-antidote-advance-film-screening-conversation-tickets-125760078781

About the Film:

Made in response to the times we are living in, THE ANTIDOTE is a feature documentary that weaves together stories of kindness and decency in America—a choral essay about people who are making intentional choices to lift others up, despite fundamental unkindnesses that exist in our society.

Directed by six-time Emmy Award-winner John Hoffman and Academy Award-nominee Kahane Cooperman, THE ANTIDOTE tells stories of compassionate people intentionally leveraging the resources of their communities to give others a chance at a better life. THE ANTIDOTE isn’t about an idea or a policy; it is about bringing people into a healthy relation with each other, listening to their wants and desires, respecting their boundaries, and treating them with dignity.

“If ever there was a time for inclusivity in education.”

Research links kindness to a wealth of physical and emotional benefits. And it’s an
excellent coping skill for the Covid-19 era. Take a minute to revel in a world brimming
with kindness in #BeTheAntidote theantidotemovie.com

Kindness is contagious.

If you have a friend that you would like to recognize for their acts of kindness, please send them a postcard and invite them to watch #THEANTIDOTE on Saturday, October 24th at 3:30pm PST.

Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein ES

ISLANDS & WALLS

THE ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION was a global crossroads for immigrants from 80 countries around the world. (An estimated 300,000 people were detained at Angel Island, including 100,000 Chinese, 85,000 Japanese, 8,000 South East Asians, 8,000 Russians and Jews, 1,000 Koreans, and 1,000 Filipinos.) When the doors of the Angel Island Immigration Station shut in 1940, the hundreds of poems carved on the barracks walls by Chinese immigrants were locked inside and forgotten. The poems were rediscovered in 1970 by park ranger Alexander Weiss.

The Angel Island poetry carved into the barrack walls imitates a well-known classical style called “jueju poetry,” developed in the T’ang Dynasty (618-907), when the arts flourished and there were many advancements in the areas of engineering and technology. Perhaps the most important of these, especially in regards to the lives of children today, was the invention of woodblock printing. Woodblock printing allowed books to be printed in mass production. Books helped to increase literacy and to pass on knowledge. It was during this time that poetry became an integral part of the Chinese culture.

In 1976, California appropriated $250,000 for the preservation of the poetry and the building. Today more than 200 poems from the Angel Island barracks have been recorded. Using the latest computer graphics technology, research teams have discovered 172 Chinese poems, 33 graphic images, and 200 inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German and English.

I look forward to the day when the descendants of the one million immigrants who came through Angel Island, including approximately 175,000 Chinese-Americans, can revisit the spot where their ancestors made such great sacrifices for them.

There are few more intimate and personal reminders of our history as immigrants than the poems carved on the walls of the Detention Barracks by those who awaited word on whether they would be admitted into this country.

Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein on Angel Island Bill, April 28, 2005

NAMES & NATURE

The Dianne Feinstein ES fourth grade classrooms opened the door to The Angel Island Project on January 16, when the fourth graders were introduced to Angel Island history in a poetry workshop led by teaching artist Andi Wong.

The classroom poetry workshop began with an artifact found in her grandfather’s suitcase, which was used during his travels between China to the United States. As the object was passed from hand to hand around the room, the students were invited to guess what the mysterious object might be, and why would someone might pack this item for an ocean crossing? The student’s keen sense of smell offered an important clue, and the students agreed that this object smelled a lot like cinnamon!

Cinnamon (from far away Toishan)

Ancestors (uprooted)

Scent (wafts from the battered brown)

Suitcase. (Whispers from the)

Island (of Immortals to)

Angels (here on Earth)

Collaborative acrostic poem by Ms. McCullough’s 4th Graders, (with grace notes by Andi)

The fourth graders began by creating acrostic poems inspired by their names and nature, using words to capture and express their impressions of self and nature. The student poems will inspire the creation of a book and a musical composition that will be shared with audiences at the world premiere of Your Wall is Our Canvas.

THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE

Ms. Harrington, Ms. McCullough, and Ms. Rondone’s classes were working on the poetry project, as news began reporting of a COVID-19 pandemic, which required citizens all over the world to shelter in place. In this time, the classroom poetry inspired the grade level auction project, a mirror of words, framed with art created by the fourth graders working with art teacher Sharon Collins. Words and phrases were set in “stone”— stamped into earthen clay, using solar dyes to paint with sunlight in a time of great uncertainty. The visual art piece was created to inspire self-reflection and hopes for a future where Nature and Humanity are in harmony, joined together as One. The community was invited to come to school for an Art Walk on Friday, April 13, the final day on site for the 2020 school year. The work was auctioned to raise much needed funds for school programs.

VOICES OF RESILIENCE

Fifty years ago, Alexander Weiss found long-lost poems carved into the detention barracks walls. This discovery led to the Angel Island Immigration Station’s rebirth as a National Historic Landmark

The poetry written by fourth graders in the January 16 workshop at the start of 2020, took on a whole new meaning by March 13th, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed Bay Area schools, ultimately for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

Nine collaborative poems from the 4th grade were submitted and selected for the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s first virtual exhibition. Voices of Resilience celebrates the 50th anniversary of the re-discovery of over 200 Chinese poems carved into the walls of the detention barracks at the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island. The rediscovery triggered a set of efforts to preserve the building, ultimately resulting in the designation of the site as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1997.

The exhibition features a total of 55 poems including 22 historical poems and 33 contemporary poems selected from online submissions from the general public. In addition to the fourth grade DFES student work, the contemporary poems included contributions from former Angel Island detainees, their descendants, including The Last Hoisan PoetsIsland author Genny Lim, Nellie Wong and Flo Oy Wong – and an anthology by the Sato/Bukowski/ Haechler Family. The online exhibition ran from May 1 through through June 30, 2020, where the poems remain on the walls of the AIISF’s website archives — Voices of Resilience to be discovered by future visitors.

“At a time when there are significantly increased reports of anti-Asian harassment and assaults related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt important to AIISF’s Board and Staff to continue to ensure that the histories and stories related to the immigrant detention at Angel Island are not forgotten. Our hope is that Voices of Resilience serves a reminder of the empathy, connection, and resiliency that is important especially in times like this.” stated AIISF Executive Director Edward Tepporn.

BREAKING BARRIERS

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from The Drum Major Instinct, (1968)

In the future, it is hoped that the Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will premiere on the island. The new Angel Island Immigration Museum, the former Public Health Service hospital, will open in the future, allowing visitors to apply history’s lessons to nurture civil society and protect civil rights. The AIISF Virtual Gala, “Celebrating Our Dreams, Imagining Our Future,” takes place online on August 19, 2020. The event is free to attend, so please spread the word among your friends and family members. We can all help to ensure that the important histories and stories related to the former U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island are not forgotten, especially at a time when we are seeing increasing discrimination and attacks against Asians and other immigrant groups.

The 2020 Spirit of Angel Island award will acknowledge the dedication and service of California State Park Interpreter, Casey Dexter-Lee. For the past 20 years, Casey has worked on Angel Island, teaching the Immigration Station’s history to thousands of visitors, while also supporting the various programs and restoration efforts at the site.

In the same spirit, the young artists at DFES are using sound and images to communicate their ideas and emotions and inspire action and movement towards a more just society. The Breaking Barriers” assembly on Monday, January 13 with composer/bassist Marcus Shelby marked the 25th anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by kicking off the fifth annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive led by the DFES student council to benefit homeless children in San Francisco. Students gathered at lunch time to process books donations by writing special notes of encouragement for future readers. The 2020 Blake Mini Library Breaking Barrier’s collection was created based on community donations and student reading recommendations.

Lunchtime origami workshops were also held to teach children how to fold tsuru, paper cranes symbolizing peace, compassion, hope and healing. In the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding (origami), the crane is a popular, easy-to-learn figure that children and adults of all abilities can create. At lunchtime, working together until our last day of gathering on the schoolyard, the children folded hundreds of cranes of all sizes and colors, in response to a call to action by Tsuru for Solidarity. All can contribute to the project which aims to fold 525,000 cranes, equalling the number of immigrants incarcerated annually. A community gesture to show that immigrant children, youths, families and other detainees seeking safety in our country will not be forgotten.


The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

2020 MLK Day & Blake Mini Library

Today, January 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Each year, the Blake Mini Library book drive kicks off on the MLK Day of Service, collecting through Valentine’s Day. The project encourages and supports the caring acts of children who work with their communities to collect books for the Hamilton Families shelter program here in San Francisco. This youth philanthropy effort supports the reading, writing and science literacy of children ages birth to 21 living in homes for runaways, homeless shelters and foster care. The project began in 2013, when a 6-year old boy named Blake Ansari began a book drive in New York City with the support of his family and friends.

In 2020, we invite friends and families to share acts of compassion and creativity, in celebration of the 5th annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive in San Francisco.

Students can participate by:

Adults can support students by:

  • Donating your new and recently new books (no cloth books please) to children from birth to age 21.
  • Sponsor a book title inspired by our 2020 theme: “Breaking Barriers”
  • When donating a book, write a Note of Encouragement, a special surprise message that is hidden inside the book to be discovered by a future reader.
  • Record an audio read-aloud version of a book that can be enjoyed by beginning readers.
  • Learn more about the issue of homelessness and the impacts on children and finding ways to help. Baharav, H., Leos-Urbel, J., Obradovic, J., & Bardack, S. (2017). The Educational Success of Homeless and Highly Mobile Students in San Francisco Unified School District. Stanford, CA. John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, Stanford Graduate School of Education.
  • Inspire children by showing that you support their efforts.

“When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self”

– Blake Ansari, founder of Blake Mini Library

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