Lost words

It has been said by many that writing letters is a lost art form. People under the age of 35 or so may have never experienced the sentimental emotions of discovering that dusty old shoebox full of beautifully crafted letters that convey love, joy, sorrow and introspection. The grief-stricken letter with tear-stained handwriting or the […]

Tule Lake revisited and reframed

TULE LAKE REVISITED: A BRIEF HISTORY AND GUIDE TO THE TULE LAKE CONCENTRATION CAMP SITE (second edition) By Barbara Takei and Judy Tachibana (San Francisco: Tule Lake Committee Inc., 56 pp., $15, spiral bound) This is a timely and much needed revision of the original “Tule Lake” (2001). Much has transpired, beginning with the transformation […]

TULE LAKE PRESERVATION: A progress report

Tule Lake’s segregation history resonates with America’s deepest held beliefs — about standing up for one’s convictions and challenging those who have abused power. Yet, perversely, due to lingering World War II propaganda that cast Japanese American challengers to the unjust incarceration as disloyal subversives, our community has been slow to recognize courageous individual responses […]

ISLANDERS IN EXILE: The history of Bainbridge, Terminal Island Nikkei

Off the Pacific Coast, the historic Japanese villages of Terminal Island in Southern California’s San Pedro Bay and Bainbridge Island in the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound share attributes as close-knit, cohesive, and self-contained communities with abrupt converging histories. From the early 1900s, while the Issei worked hard in fishing and canneries at Fish Harbor, and […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: A tribute to Dr. Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi, sociologist, activist and race relations advocate

This week’s column focuses on the distinguished sociologist and activist Dr. Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi, a pioneering scholar of race relations who died Nov. 18, 2012. Unlike virtually all the people I write about in “Great Unknown,” I got to know her personally. Because of our friendship and my knowledge of her career, I helped the […]

‘Tim’ Nomiyama, a Nisei military resister, dies

Tetsuo “Tim” Nomiyama, a Kibei Nisei military resister, passed away on Dec. 10, 2012 at the age of 96. Nomiyama was born on Jan. 20, 1916 in Alameda, Calif. Around the age of 4 or 5, his parents sent him to their ancestral home in Fukuoka Prefecture to receive a Japanese education. When Nomiyama returned […]

No-nos, renunciants speak out about stigma over wartime actions

TORRANCE, Calif. — The “No-No Boys” and renunciants, Nikkei prisoners who protested the injustice of having to answer a “loyalty questionnaire” while incarcerated in American concentration camps during World War II, were the focus of a forum held on Oct. 27 at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library Community Room in Torrance. Although 70 years […]

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 […]

Hirabayashi, dean of first ethnic studies school, dies

James Akira Hirabayashi, an emeritus professor of anthropology and ethnic and Asian American studies at San Francisco State University — where he served as the first dean of the first ethnic studies program in the country — passed away peacefully in San Francisco on May 23, 2012. He was 85. “Jim’s passing was going to […]

President Obama hails Hirabayashi’s courage in defying wartime incarceration

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — U.S. President Barack Obama on May 29 hailed the courage of Gordon Hirabayashi for defying the incarceration order for Japanese Americans during World War II as he posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian award. In a ceremony at the White House, Obama said that Hirabayashi, as […]

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