The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The Yoshitomi files, and a study of anti-Japanism

In 1924, Congress passed the National Origins Act, which barred all Japanese immigration to the United States. Throughout the surrounding years, the “Japanese question” — that is, the labor and social status of ethnic Japanese — remained the subject of endless debate among policymakers, journalists, nativist pressure groups and religious organizations, as well as the […]

The GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Prolific Nisei’s work ranged from authoring children’s books to designing stamps

During much of the 20th century, Japanese American artists, like other Asian Americans, had a difficult time pursing a career. They shared the troubles that other artists experienced of publicizing and selling their work in a market-driven economy where art was either treated as a commodity or ignored altogether. They also experienced additional difficulties as […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Mervyn M. Dymally, former Congressional Black Caucus chair, a vital redress advocate

During the early 1970s, the movement for Japanese American redress (as it would later be called) was born. It started as a collection of grassroots activists seeking to raise popular consciousness about the wartime removal of Japanese Americans. One notable leader was Sue Kunitomi Embrey, who founded the annual Manzanar Pilgrimages. Another central figure was […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Revisiting the JACL’s historic debate over same-sex marriage

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the NAACP’s May 19, 2012 endorsement of same-sex marriage. Today’s installment of “The Great Unknown,” which marks my sixth annual column on the queer history of Japanese Americans, is devoted to commemorating the Japanese American Citizens League’s (JACL) historic marriage debate. As most of us are […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Looking into the ‘great unknown’

Today’s installment offers a different kind of look into the “great unknown,” by unraveling some of the mystery surrounding how I do my research. Probably the question that readers of my column most often ask — sometimes with flattering wonder in their voices — is how and where I collect the wide-ranging bits of information […]

LETTERS: Nikkei ‘enduring’ life in Louisiana

Note: This letter was sent in response to the article entitled “The astonishing history of Japanese Americans in Louisiana,” which ran in two parts in November. Dear Editor, I was sent copies of the Nichi Bei Weekly, dated Nov. 3-9, part 1 and Nov. 10-16, 2011, part 2, to our Gardens in Louisiana. I really […]

LETTERS: Greetings from the Koharas

Note: This letter was sent in response to the article entitled “The astonishing history of Japanese Americans in Louisiana,” which ran in two parts in November. Dear Editor, Thank you for including our Kohara clan in this article. We are all proud of our family in Louisiana. JD Sparks (Kohara) Pewee Valley, KY

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: A MAN OF PRINCIPLE: Robert Chino, civil rights activist, draft resister and veteran

The New Year’s season is a special time for wrap-ups and updates. One interesting, if slightly frustrating, part of doing my Nichi Bei column is that my research does not stop with publication of a given essay. Instead, I continue to discover more information about the people I write about even after the pieces have […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The astonishing history of Japanese Americans in Louisiana (pt. 2)

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series. The Second World War hit Louisiana’s Japanese population hard. On Dec. 8, the Japanese consulate closed its doors and its Japanese alien employees were incarcerated. Japanese shrimp boats were grounded, and the Hinata art store in New Orleans closed its doors. The Hinata daughters, anticipating […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The astonishing history of Japanese Americans in Louisiana

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series. The story of Japanese settlement in Louisiana, whether in the metropolis of New Orleans or in the bayous, is rather unknown, even to locals, but Nikkei have had a surprisingly large impact on the state’s history. Jokichi Takamine was possibly the first Japanese settler in […]

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