Friday, February 18, 2011

Civil Liberties Day of Remembrance Feb. 19

Japanese Americans registering before evacuation
Tomorrow is Civil Liberties Day of Remembrance (RCW § 1.16.050):

The legislature recognizes that on February 19, 1942, the President of the United States issued Executive Order 9066 which authorized military rule over civilian law and lives; that Executive Order 9066 led to the World War II evacuation and internment of more than one hundred twenty thousand Japanese Americans, most of whom were United States citizens by birth; that Japanese Americans lost their homes and livelihoods and suffered physical and psychological damage; and that, despite widespread hostility and discrimination, Japanese Americans served with distinction in the United States military effort as members of the Military Intelligence Service and in the segregated 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The legislature further recognizes that in the name of “military necessity,” Japanese Americans were deprived of their fundamental constitutional rights and civil liberties; and that the Japanese American experience during World War II tragically illuminates the fragile nature of our most cherished national beliefs and values.

The legislature declares that an annual day of recognition be observed in remembrance of Japanese Americans interned during World War II as a reminder that, regardless of the provocation, individual rights and freedoms must never be denied.

Laws of 2003, ch. 68 § 1.

An image of President Roosevelt's executive order and a historical essay about it are here (part of the collection Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives). Also from the National Archives set of prepared searches on different aspect of Japanese American Experiences during World War II.

In 1941, Japanese American students were the largest minority in the UW -- 440 were listed in the student directory. You've probably heard of Gordon Hirabayashi, the UW student who defied the curfew and then the relocation order imposed on Japanese Americans. (Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81 (1943), and Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), upheld the military curfew and exclusion orders.) For more about Hirabayashi and his classmates (and a little about a Japanese American professor who was also evacuated), see: Historylink has many entries on the Japanese American relocation, including:
Japanese American families from the Puget Sound area were sent to "Camp Harmony" -- the Puyallup Fairgrounds -- for four months before being sent to camps further inland. See the University Libraries Camp Harmony Exhibit.

Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project includes this web essay: After Internment: Seattle’s Debate Over Japanese Americans' Right to Return Home.

The Densho Project is a rich source of first-hand accounts of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

For law library books on the Japanese American evacuation and relocation, see this WorldCat list.

Interested in a documentary film? Check out Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story, D769.8A6 O33 2006 at Classified Stacks. You read a little about the film here. Here is a 3 1/2-minute trailer:

Of Civil Wrongs and Rights - trailer from Asian Law Caucus on Vimeo.

Photo: Japanese Americans registering before evacuation, San Francisco, April 25, 1942. Photo by Dorothea Lange. From Dept. of the Interior, War Relocation Authority. National Archives ARC Identifier 536462.

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