Japanese American WWII students at City College of SF sought for diploma project

The California Nisei College Diploma Project (CA Nisei Project) is seeking to locate those Japanese Americans whose studies at the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) were halted due to the signing of Executive Order 9066 during World War II. California Assembly Bill 37 (AB37) calls for honorary degrees to be presented to more than 200 Nisei who attended CCSF, formerly known as San Francisco Junior College.

AB 37, authored by Assemblymember Warren Furutani (D-Long Beach), became law on Oct. 11, 2009. The bill requires the Trustees of the California State University (CSU) system and the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges (CCC) to grant honorary degrees to all people of Japanese ancestry whose educations were interrupted because of their forced incarceration during World War II. On July 16, 2009, the University of California Regents unanimously agreed to suspend a 37-year-old moratorium on granting honorary degrees.,

Since its signing into law, AB 37 has helped to identify close to 900 former students and has allowed the Nisei to achieve their dreams of a college degree some 68 years later.

These students have not only been granted the opportunity to receive an honorary degree from the very schools they were forced to leave, but they have also been honored in commencement ceremonies at their respective universities or colleges.

The CA Nisei Project, a program of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, offers support to the three California college systems and conducts outreach to community organizations and individuals in an effort to honor former internees whose post secondary education was abruptly and unfairly cut short due to the mass incarceration of all Japanese Americans during World War II.

The Project was established with a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a program of the California State Library, and in cooperation with Union Bank, to provide outreach and education on the Japanese American internment and AB 37.

Anyone who knows of someone who may be eligible to receive an honorary degree from the City College of San Francisco or from the other California institutions of higher education are asked to contact project coordinator, Jeffrey Chu, at (415) 567-5505 or by e-mail at caniseiproject@jcccnc.org.

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