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New Five Points history project explores Japanese Americans legacy in the neighborhood

Posted at 3:32 PM, Jul 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-24 19:29:06-04

DENVER - A new history project called “Stories of Solidarity: Japanese Americans in Five Points” is exploring the legacy of Japanese Americans who lived in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood following World war II.

The project had a temporary exhibit on display at the Savoy Flex Space in Five Points and project coordinators are searching for a new permanent home for the exhibit.

However, currently, the project can partially be accessed digitally and through a walking tour that visitors can access at any time.

Five Points is predominantly known as a historic Black community, but researchers have recently uncovered lesser-known stories of a large Japanese American community that lived there also.

New Five Points history project explores Japanese Americans legacy in the neighborhood

“There was this thriving Japanese community mixed in with this thriving African American community,” Courtney Ozaki is the founder of the Japanese Arts Network, one of the organizations behind the exhibit.

Ozaki said after World War II, when Japanese Americans were released from internment camps like Amache, they saw Colorado as a welcoming place to start a new life, but still faced discrimination.

“Just like the African American community, the LatinX community, the Jewish community as well…redlining made it so that this was really the only viable place for them to rebuild, to own businesses, to live, it was the only place they could afford to be,” Ozaki said.

Along with the exhibit, Ozaki said the Japanese Arts Network and the Mile High Japanese American Citizens League are collecting oral histories from Japanese Coloradan including Ozaki’s parents who grew up in Five Points.

“I have a personal family history with this neighborhood. Both of my families came here to resettle in the Five Points neighborhood following World War II,” Ozaki said.

Ozaki said despite the many hardships Five Points residents faced, there were so many beautiful intersections of cultures.

“I love hearing the stories of Manual High School because that’s also where many of the residents from the Five Points, Curtis Park, Whittier neighborhoods all went to this high school together,” Ozaki said.

Ozaki said the project will preserve those memories for new generations to discover Five Points' diverse history.