The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Nisei exclusion at Penn (Pt. 3 of 3)

Editor’s Note: Part of this piece was previously published as ‘Admission Denied,’ in the Pennsylvania Gazette, January-February 2000 issue. Until the story of her exclusion was broadcast nationwide, Naomi Nakano had been, by her own admission, rather removed from the controversy. She had not participated in the protests, and The Bennett News had been careful […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Nisei exclusion at Penn (Pt. 2 of 3)

Editor’s Note: Part of this piece was previously published as ‘Admission Denied,’ in the Pennsylvania Gazette, January-February 2000 issue. In the spring of 1944, the University of Pennsylvania’s blanket policy excluding Japanese Americans rebounded strongly against it after Naomi Nakano, a senior majoring in philosophy in the College for Women, applied for admission to the […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Nisei exclusion at Penn (Pt. 1 of 3)

Editor’s Note: Part of this piece was previously published as ‘Admission Denied,’ in the Pennsylvania Gazette, January-February 2000 issue. Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, was far removed from the endemic anti-Japanese American prejudice that marked the Pacific Coast during most of the 20th century. During World War II, Philadelphia’s tiny Japanese American population remained […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The Japanese American fight for gay and lesbian rights

  This week’s piece represents a fifth entry in the series of annual columns I have produced for Nichi Bei on the Queer heritage of Japanese Americans. In past pieces I have looked at the hidden and sometimes complex sexual history of early Japanese immigrants; the evolution of widespread anti-gay prejudice in mid-century Japanese communities, […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Multiracial pacifist and activist, Yone Stafford

One of the more pleasant aspects of doing “The Great Unknown” is the responses that I get to my columns from readers, including friends and family members of the people whom I write about. They not only offer praise but provide additional information and inspire further work. Not long ago I did a column about […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The life and times of resister Gordon Hirabayashi (Part 2)

Note: This is the second of a two-part column. In 1951 Gordon Hirabayashi defended his doctoral thesis in sociology. His subject was the adaptation and status of the Doukhobors in British Columbia’s Slocan Valley. It was an intriguing choice of subject. Members of this sect of pacifist Christians from Russia, who believed in holding land […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The life and times of resister Gordon Hirabayashi (Part 1 of 2)

As we remember the wartime removal of Japanese Americans, one outstanding figure to celebrate is Gordon Hirabayashi, a man of principle whose legal challenge to official injustice went all the way to the Supreme Court. Jeanne Sakata’s 2007 play “Dawn’s Light” has now brought Hirabayashi’s wartime tale exploits to countless audiences. However, there is a […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT, The life and times of Hisaye Yamamoto: writer, activist, speaker

Hisaye Yamamoto, who died on Jan. 30, 2011 at the age of 89, remains known primarily as a literary artist, a crafter of powerful short fiction — such as her signature stories “Seventeen Syllables” and “Yoneko’s Earthquake” — as well as assorted newspaper columns. Yet the story of her development as a writer is less […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The tragic and engaging activist Sam Hohri

Like many other people, I was saddened by the news of William Minoru Hohri’s passing. I greatly respected his achievements in organizing the forces for Japanese American redress, and his various other contributions to racial justice in the United States. I was interested to read the various memorial tributes. One element that seemed absent from […]

The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great: ISSEI WOMEN: Shio Sakanishi, a pioneering figure in education

In April 1939, the writer Edward Larocque Tinker offered a laudatory account in his New York Times column of a new book “The Spirit of the Brush,” an anthology of commentaries on art by Chinese classical painters between 367 A.D. and 960 A.D. Tinker noted that the editor of the collection, Dr. Shio Sakanishi, was […]

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