a man and woman pose for the camera holding an award.
Duncan Ryuken Williams, left, and Sunyoung Lee display their Award of Excellence. (Photo: Glenn Osaki.)

USC Shinso Ito Center director honored by Japanese American National Museum

Duncan Ryuken Williams, director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture and professor of religion, American studies and ethnicity and East Asian languages and cultures, was honored with an Award of Excellence by the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) at its annual gala on April 6 for his “pioneering work on the Irei project, a monumental initiative that honors Japanese American World War II incarcarees and promotes global peace.”

Williams shares the honor with Sunyoung Lee, the project’s creative director. Lee is the publisher and editor of Kaya Press, based at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

JANM President and CEO Ann Burroughs praised Williams and Lee, saying their collaboration with JANM was among the most consequential the museum has ever undertaken.

Williams, in accepting the award, said, “The Irei project is premised on the idea that racial and religious animus, the karma of our nation, can be transformed. We attempt to heal the wounds of those who experienced exclusion, forced removal and incarceration by a simple act of recognition.”

Watch Williams and Lee receive the Award of Excellence from JANM.