George Takei: From 2300 to Zero Empty Seats (Oh, myyy!)

George Takei, who played Lieutenant Sulu on the original Star Trek series, is coming to Dallas to speak. He is the first of three Upstander Speakers invited by the Dallas Holocaust Museum to share their stories in 2017. We produced this event in partnership with Southern Methodist University’s Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP).

Four weeks ago the Museum and EHRP had a venue with 2300 seats to fill. In four weeks, without traditional marketing, we have zero seats left to fill–we’ve beaten our ticket sales projection.  Why?

Yes. Takei is famous for his role of Lieutenant Sulu. And, yes. That’s a part our success.  But, there’s more.  There are five key factors.

  1. Partnering. We partnered with SMU’s Embry Human Rights Program.  This partnership included splitting costs for the event and inviting the SMU community, including thousands of college students, to the event.
  2. There’s an important and fascinating message here. George Takei broke racial barriers in Hollywood.  He also speaks about his family’s time in Japanese-American internment camps during WWII.
  3. Activism. Our mission is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference.  Mr. Takei is highly visible as an activist for LGBTQ rights making the event appealing across multiple generations.
  4. Social Media. The level of social engagement on Facebook and Twitter was terrific, generated by the interesting topics Mr. Takei will cover and also by his high profile and incredibly active presence on social media.
  5. Footprint. Our public footprint has grown dramatically over the last five years.  Several years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to hear the question,  “Dallas has a Holocaust Museum?” Our goal is the complete elimination of that question from Texans’ minds through North Central Texas , and we’ve made amazing strides.  Our email database has doubled along with our social media engagement.

In summation, the successful formula looks like this: well-known speaker + strong partner + broadly-appealing message + social media engagement + increased visibility = successful event.

Visit to read about the other 2017 Upstander speakers.

We are grateful to our sponsors and community partners:

Liz and Tom Halsey

Orchid Giving Circle

The Dallas Morning News

Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce


We are thankful for the continued support of our board and members, as well as the general public.

Favorite Places: The Garden of Remembrance and Tolerance

Garden of Remembrance and Tolerance


Last November, the Museum held a dedication ceremony for our new Garden of Remembrance and Tolerance. After a long hot summer of planning, planting, and watering, everything was in place. The garden was the Eagle Scout project of local student Brandon Ryan, and was certainly a labor of love–due to the hot summer, all the plants had to be watered every day. But before the plants could be planted, and the sculpture installed, Brandon had to start from scratch. The ground on which the garden now sits was once part of our parking lot. Brandon coordinated and participated in all aspects of the project, from breaking ground to the finishing touches.

The focal point of the garden, the sculpture, was designed by Brandon’s fellow students at the Greenhill School, Austin and Bronsin Ablon. On the meaning of the piece, Austin said, “We invite you to discover your own meaning about the sculpture but through building the memorial we have developed a sort of story of what the piece depicts. At first we had the idea to include the metal posts in the walls to represent the concentration camps as cold and hard jails. As we continued building the memorial we discovered more and more about what it meant to us. Its name, ‘Coming Together,’ embodies what happens with the sculpture when it rains. The rain drops, interrupted from their free fall paths, are collected and guided down the path until they all fall into the center star of David that sits bellow. In that action, they “come together” as one. We believe that this idea represents what happened to the Jewish people during the holocaust. Just like the rain drops, their daily lives were interrupted, they were gathered together and forced into trains, and then into concentration camps. But after all of that happened, even though they had suffered horribly, the survivors came together as the Jewish people, stronger and united – just like the rain drops.”

The Garden of Remembrance and Tolerance is one of our favorite places because it stands as a physical reminder to all who pass by that the lessons of the Holocaust are not to be forgotten. It is a special corner of growth and renewal in the center of an area surrounded by concrete and train tracks.