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Nearly 2,000 trek to California desert for 50th anniversary of Manzanar pilgrimage

A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
UCLA taiko drummers perform at the 50th pilgrimage to Manzanar.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
Japanese-American activist Mo Nishida participates in the annual pre-pilgrimage relay to Manzanar from Los Angeles.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
Muslim participants in the pilgrimage held afternoon prayers under a glaring sun.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
Omer Sohail, a senior at the University of California Riverside, came with the group Vigilant Love and documented what he saw at the pilgrimage.
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
The Sierra Nevada mountain range provides a picturesque backdrop to the annual pilgrimage to Manzanar. The elements can be harsh, with brutal heat in the summer and bitter cold in the winter.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
The 50th pilgrimage to Manzanar drew a sizable number of Muslim Americans, who found eager allies in the Japanese-American community after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
Members of Vigilant Love, an L.A.-based group working on fighting Islamophobia through programming involving Muslim and Japanese Americans.
A Shinto Buddhist priest leads an interfaith service at the 50th annual pilgrimage to Manzanar.
A sign in a scrubby field is the only indicator that barracks used to stand on the spot.
Chava Sanchez/KPCC


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As a child, Mariko Lockhart tried to ask her family about life at Manzanar. That's where her mother, aunt and grandmother were incarcerated along with more than 10,000 other people of Japanese descent during World War II. 

The three of them were living in Glendale when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Within months, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the forced wartime relocation of ethnic Japanese, mostly those from the West Coast, into camps around the country. Despite this being a momentous chapter in their lives, Lockhart's family members avoided discussing it.

"I think it was part of the feeling at that time that you shouldn’t talk about it. That it was something to be ashamed of," Lockhart said. 

Now that all three women have died, Lockhart has been searching for answers. That's why she joined the annual pilgrimage to Manzanar on April 27. 

You can read more about the pilgrimage at LAist.com.