Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988

Photo courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Imagine what it would be like if you were instructed to pack up, leave your home behind, and report to a detention center—all because you were a descendant of a specific ethnicity. This is what over 120,000 Japanese Americans had to endure during World War II.

Nearly half a century later, on August 10, 1988, former President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act that offered an apology on behalf of the nation for incarcerating Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II, because they “looked like the enemy.” To read the complete text of this momentous legislation, check out the LexisNexis Congressional database:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “Articles & Databases.” You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to access the databases from outside the Library.

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Government” then “LexisNexis Congressional.”

3. Select the “Advanced Search” tab and restrict your search to the 100th session of Congress.

4. In the search box at the top, enter “civil liberties act” and run the search.

5. Clicking any of the links will provide you with more information on the evolutionary development of this legislation as it transformed from a bill to its current form as an official act.

The LexisNexis Congressional database contains legislative information such as Congressional publications, legislative histories, bills and laws, members and committees, regulations, Congressional records and rules, current hot topics, and political news dating back to 1789. Searchable by name, publication, bill numbers, date, Congressional session, and more.

Furthermore, on August 10, 2008, the San Francisco Public Library's International Center will be presenting a lecture and panel discussion--"The Civil Liberties Act of 1988: A Legacy for All Americans"--to honor this legislation. This program will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium with a reception to follow afterwards in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room.

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