Righting a Wrong

Japanese internment camps were established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. From 1942 to 1945, it was the policy of the U.S. government that people of Japanese descent would be incarcerated in isolated camps.

Internment within our borders

Japanese internment camps were established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. From 1942 to 1945, it was the policy of the U.S. government that people of Japanese descent would be interred in isolated camps. Young and old lived crowded together in hastily built structures, endured poor living conditions, and were under constant watch of military guards for two and a half years.

Enacted in reaction to Pearl Harbor and the ensuing war, the Japanese internment camps are now considered one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.

Despite it all, brave service

Meanwhile, brave Japanese Americans risked their lives fighting for the United States.

In early 1943, the U.S. War Department called for Volunteers for a 4,500-member regimental combat team for Americans of Japanese ancestry. With more than 10,000 volunteers, the 442 Regimental Combat Team was created. After training in Mississippi, the 442nd deployed to Anzio, Italy in 1944. They rescued the “Lost Battalion," broke the final line of German resistance in Northern Italy, and liberated Nazi concentration camps. The 442nd is the most decorated unit in U.S. history for its size and length of service. It earned seven Presidential Unit Citations, and 21 members received the Medal of Honor.

 

 442nd Regiment

Insignia for 442nd Regimental Combat Team

"You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice, and you have won. Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win--to make this great Republic stand for just what the Constitution says it stands for: the welfare of all the people all the time.

President Harry Truman presenting the 442nd with a Presidential Unit Citation, July 1946

 

 

Kay FukudaKay Fukuda, Japanese-American U.S. Naval cadet nurse
Manzanar Series, Ansel Adams - Library of Congress

 

 442nd Regiment

Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 28,1943
Thousands gathered to bid the 442nd RCT farewell as they left for Camp Shelby, MS
Courtesy of Honolulu Star Bulletin

 

Righting a Wrong

Our poster exhibit traces the story of Japanese national and Japanese American incarceration during World War II and its lasting effects.

Centered around eight questions, engage in a dialogue about how this happened and if it could happen again. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, this poster exhibition brings forth themes of identity, immigration, prejudice, civil rights, courage, and what it means to be an American.

How can we learn from the past?

In 1942, the U.S. government rounded up more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals living in the United States and sent them to incarceration camps. Forty years later, community members pushed the nation to confront the wrong it had done – and to make it right.

By exploring this history and asking questions about the past, we discover interweaving stories of oppression, perseverance, and triumph that help us better understand the choices we face today.

Right the Worng Poster

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How could this happen?

In 1942, overcome by fear that Japanese and Japanese Americans living on the West Coast were a threat to national security, the U.S. government summarily incarcerated them.


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How do we decide who belongs?

Long-standing anti-Asian resentment and racial prejudice exaggerated the nation’s fear of those in the Japanese and Japanese American community.


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 Who holds power?

The U.S. government forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and resident Japanese into desolate incarceration camps.

 
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What counts as courage?

Many in the camps declared their American-ness, and their resilience, by maintaining the routines and institutions of everyday life. Others joined or were drafted into the U.S. military.


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 What choices can we make?

Many resisted the injustice of their incarceration through protests and legal action.

 
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 How does democracy work?

Some forty years later, the Japanese American community pushed the nation to confront the wrong it had done, and to make it right.


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 How will you shape the future?

The country made a big and tragic error in 1942. Could it happen again? How will “we the people” determine the balance between the rights of individual citizens and minority groups and the need for defense of the nation?


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