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2020 One Book, One San Diego

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Photo Credit: George Takei

One Book, One San Diego is our region's premier literary program, presented in partnership between KPBS and over 80 public libraries, service organizations and educational institutions. Now in its 14th year, the purpose is to bring our community closer together through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book.
Each year, One Book, One San Diego features a literary work for adults, young adults, kids, and Spanish language readers. For adult readers, Spanish readers and young adult readers; this year’s selection is They Called Us Enemy (Nos Llamaron Enemigo) by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker. For children, the selection is Write to Me by Cynthia Grady and illustrated by Amiko Hirao.

One Book Programs

Special Events

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. | Register Here
KPBS presents a special VIRTUAL event with activist and actor George Takei, author of They Called Us Enemy, the 2020 One Book, One San Diego selection. They Called Us Enemy is a graphic memoir, co-written with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott and illustrated by artist Harmony Becker, recounting Takei’s haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. The book asks the questions “What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?”
The program will also feature a performance by Genbu Daiko from our partners at the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego and an interview with Mr. George Takei and KPBS Arts and Culture reporter, Beth Accomando. THIS IS A VIRTUAL EVENT, free to the public. Links will be provided in your confirmation email. No other registration is required.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 | 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. | Register Here
Actor, author, and activist George Takei has long talked about his experience with the forced Incarceration of Japanese Americans, and how that experience has shaped his definition of patriotism and democracy. With his latest release, “They Called Us Enemy,” he shines further light on his experience in a frank and accessible way for readers of all ages. In “Rise Up with George Takei,” we discuss his experiences and how he (and we) can use our voices to rise up against injustice and inequality.

My SD Poster Contest

Calling all artists! In honor of the One Book, One San Diego 2020 selection, we are calling on all artist, both novice and professional, to create a poster that best communicates and illustrates the neighborhood or community you live in. We want to highlight the diversity of San Diego by using art as a tool to express not only where we live, but also the hopes and concerns for a better future. Diversity, perspective, style, and voice are all touchstone prompts that we hope inspire you to create. All complete submissions will be entered for a chance to win a 1st place prize of $300 dollars, 2nd place prize of $125 dollars, and 3rd place prize of $75.00, graciously sponsored by the Friends of the San Diego Public Library.
Launch September 1st, 2020 and runs through November 15th, 2020 by 6 p.m. PST.
Who can participate?
Our contest is open to all ages and to everyone within San Diego County.
How do I submit an entry?
Email a PDF of your artwork to sdlibraryonebook@sandiego.gov with the subject line "My SD Poster" by November 15th, 2020 by 6 p.m. (PST).
Please include the following in the body of your email:
Full name, age, and best contact information. Entries will be rejected if incomplete. 
Here are a few additional rules regarding artwork submissions:
  • Designs must be the original work of the entrant.
  • Designs should be limited to 8”x11”
  • All mediums and styles are welcomed – Paint, watercolor, markers, crayons, comics/graphic illustrations, magazine clippings, collage, digital applications, etc.  
  • Designs should be in color, or black and white.
  • Artwork should not include any copied or copyrighted materials.
  • Artwork should be family friendly.
  • Limit two (2) entries per contestant.
  • Entries become the sole property of the San Diego Public Library and the Friends of the San Diego Public Library. All entries will be published online with name and age of artist.
  • Winning entries may be used without further permission or compensation for the design of the artwork or for other library promotional uses.
  • Artwork may be reduced or cropped according to design specifications.
  • Selection of the winning entrants will be at the discretion of the library judging panel.
Judging Criteria: Message, visual effectiveness, originality, universal appeal
Three selected winners and their respective works will receive a cash prize.
1st Place: $300.00
2nd Place: $125.00
3rd Place: $75.00
Judging Panel: SDPL One Book Planning Committee, and members from the Corporate Friends. 

Postcard to a Better Future

Image of paper cranes
A postcard to inspire community members to share their views of a better future by answering the prompt, “To promote a community that supports justice for all, I plan to…”. The postcard will have an Asian motif with a preprinted return address. Returned postcards will be displayed virtually on the library’s website.
Who can participate?
Everyone is encouraged to participate.
  • Get a postcard from any San Diego Public Library (SDPL) Pickup Service locations or download it PDF icon here.
  • Briefly write your thoughts on creating a better future by supporting justice for all.
  • Return completed card at any SDPL book drop, mail to preprinted address (postage required), or scan or photograph postcard and email to sdlibraryonebook@sandiego.gov.
  • Entries will be reviewed for appropriate content before display. 

One Book One San Diego Activity Booklet

Available at Pickup Service locations or download below.
Activities included:
  • Cranes for Peace | PDF icon Instructions | Video Instructions – Origami paper cranes are a symbol of peace. An ancient Japanese legend states that anyone who folds one thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish, happiness, and eternal luck. Patrons will be encouraged to make and return paper cranes that will be displayed. Help us meet our goal of one thousand paper cranes! The paper cranes can be returned via our book drops.
  • Haiku for You | PDF icon Instructions – Instruction sheet to encourage patrons to partake in this form of Japanese poetry that has been practiced for centuries. Return completed haiku at any SDPL book drop or scan or photograph your haiku and email to sdlibraryonebook@sandiego.gov.
  • All ages coloring page | PDF icon Design 1; PDF icon Design 2 – Fun and interesting design with a Japanese motif for patrons to enjoy.

2020 Selections

They Called Us Enemy

by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.
They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

About the Creators

(L-R) Justin Eisinger, George Takei, Harmony Becker, Steven Scott | Photo: Jon Ortiz
(L-R) Justin Eisinger, George Takei, Harmony Becker, Steven Scott | Photo: Jon Ortiz

With an acting career spanning six decades, George Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the starship Enterprise. But Takei’s story goes where few stories have gone before. From a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in Japanese American internment camps during World War II, to becoming one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights, and marriage equality, Takei remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture. Mashable.com named Takei the #1 most-influential person on Facebook, with 10.4 million likes and 2.8 million followers on Twitter.

Takei has been a passionate advocate for social justice, outspoken supporter of human right issues and a community activist. He has served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign “Coming Out Project,” and was Cultural Affairs Chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League. He is also chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He was appointed to the Japan-US Friendship Commission by former President Clinton and the government of Japan awarded Takei the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his contribution to US-Japanese relations. The decoration was conferred by His Majesty, Emperor Akihito, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Justin Eisinger is Editorial Director, Graphic Novels & Collections for IDW Publishing, where he has spent more than twelve years immersed in graphic storytelling. Following a fateful encounter with March author and Civil Rights pioneer Congressman John Lewis, Eisinger turned his experience adapting television episodes and film for properties such as My Little Pony, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles towards bringing engaging non-fiction stories to readers. Born in Akron, Ohio, Eisinger lives in San Diego, California, with his wife and two dogs, and in his spare time publishes North America’s only inline skating magazine.

Since publishing his debut comic book in 2010, Steven Scott has worked regularly in comics, most notably as a publicist. His writing has appeared in publications by Archie Comics, Arcana Studios, and Heavy Metal magazine. As a blogger/columnist he has written for the pop culture sites Forces of Geek, Great Scott Comics, and PopMatters.

Harmony Becker is an artist and illustrator. She is the creator of the comics Himawari Share, Love Potion, and Anemone and Catharus. She is a member of a multicultural family and has spent time living in South Korea and Japan. Her work often deals with the theme of the language barrier and how it shapes people and their relationships. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Write To Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind

by Cynthia Grady | Illustrated by Amiko Hirao
Write To Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady

Write To Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind is a touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps. When Executive Order 9066 is enacted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, San Diego Public Library children’s librarian Clara Breed’s young Japanese American patrons are to be imprisoned in the desert. Before they are moved, Miss Breed asks the children to write her letters and gives them books to take with them. Through the three years of their internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing their stories, providing feedback on books, and creating a record of their experiences. Using excerpts from children’s letters held at the Japanese American National Museum, author Cynthia Grady presents a difficult subject with honesty and hope.

About the Author: Cynthia Grady is a former teacher and children's librarian, who now lives and writes in New Mexico. She's had poems and essays published in literary, library, and educational journals. Works include; Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind; I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery; and Like a Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song.

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