The San Diego central library. Photo courtesy of the city

The San Diego Public Library this month kicks off a series of programs centered around the life and legacy of Clara E. Breed, it was announced Thursday.

“The Rebellious Miss Breed: San Diego Public Library & the Japanese American Incarceration” includes exhibits, films, performances, book discussions and author talks.

Clara Breed is best known for advocating on behalf of the hundreds of Japanese American families incarcerated during World War II. While working as a children’s librarian, she exchanged letters with dozens of young Japanese Americans, sending them books and messages of encouragement.

During her 25 years as San Diego’s head librarian, she expanded the city’s library system, promoted youth services and encouraged libraries to build multicultural collections.

“Clara Breed was dedicated to the library and the San Diego community during her lifetime,” said San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones. “The Rebellious Miss Breed” brings Clara’s devotion of public service to life and reflects on how her advocacy for an equitable and inclusionary future still informs the mission of the San Diego Public Library Thursday.

From Sept. 18 to Jan. 30, 2022, the San Diego Central Library Gallery will host the exhibition “Call to Serve: Clara Breed & the Japanese American Incarceration.” It is a collection of photos and artifacts that examine Breed’s advocacy and the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II. The exhibit includes a replica of a World War II barrack to show living conditions at detention sites.

Other programs include:

— Writing is Rebellious Postcard Exchange at all city libraries: In partnership with the Fresno County Public Library, children can pick up a postcard at any SDPL location and write an encouraging note to children in Fresno. Each library will create displays of children’s supportive words for each other;

— “Japanese Americans in San Diego” a lecture on Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Shiley Special Events Suite, Central Library. San Diego City College Professor Susan Hasegawa will discusses how Japanese Americans have contributed to the history and growth of the San Diego region;

— Author Cynthia Grady will share her picture book, “Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind,” about Breed. Families are encouraged to read the book together and ask questions during the talk. Oct. 3, virtual event.

— The Clara Breed Civil Liberties Memorial Lecture,  Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. Shiley Special Events Suite, Central Library Independent filmmaker and UCLA distinguished professor Renee Tajima-Pena will deliver the inaugural lecture.

For a full list of events and programs, go to the library’s “Rebellious Miss Breed” web page at sandiego.gov/missbreed.

–City News Service

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