Art AfterWords: A Book Discussion

Event Date: 
Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:30pm
Event Location: 
G Street Lobby
Event Cost: 

Free. Registration required. 

Event Category: 
Lectures & Discussions
Join staff from the National Portrait Gallery and the DC Public Library for a monthly discussion of portraits and prose. Each month, a Portrait Gallery educator will discuss a portrait from the collection. Following the portrait exploration, a DCPL librarian will lead a discussion of a book related to the image.

On January 15, we will discuss The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory by Julie Checkoway. 

Come view the portrait of Soichi Sakamoto and discuss the remarkable story of his team of improbable Olympians. In 1937, Maui schoolteacher Sakamoto challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance to become Olympians. They faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The children were Japanese-American and were malnourished and barefoot. They had no pool; they trained in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains into the sugarcane fields. Their future was in those same fields, working alongside their parents in virtual slavery, known not by their names but by numbered tags that hung around their necks. Their teacher, Soichi Sakamoto, was an ordinary man whose swimming ability didn't extend much beyond treading water.