By David Yamaguchi
The North American Post
A group of regional humanities, history and social studies teachers gathered for a day-long workshop on Japanese American and African American history at the Nisei Veterans Hall on July 31. Sponsored by the National JA Historical Society (njahs.org), the day’s topic was the near-simultaneous migrations of the two minority peoples in the 1940s.
The first part of the story, well-known to NAP readers, involved JAs being moved to incarceration camps in the interior and Jim Crow South. While the latter notably included the Rohwer and Jerome family camps in Arkansas, there were also seven Dept. of Justice camps for Issei leaders spread across Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
The JA migrations were superimposed on the far larger migrations of five million Blacks from the South to the North and West during 1940-1970. This resulted in the two groups living side by side in segregated neighborhoods in many cities including postwar Seattle.
Two participating teachers in the recent workshop commented that essentially, “None of this content was covered in our own social studies curricula.”
Workshop prime mover Grace Morizawa saw the Seattle-area teachers as “a special group.”
On a side table, local facilitator Eileen Yamada Lamphere displayed updated displays on the incipient JA “Remembrance Gallery” on the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Funding for the project has now passed $1 million, she said.
The last of five workshops in the series will be held in Chicago on September 30. NJAHS, based in San Francisco, “provides educators with tools to help prepare students to be informed citizens in a constitutional democracy.”
Not on the radar of Seattle JAs owing to Densho’s local presence, the NJAHS website seems worth keeping an eye on as a historical window into the San Francisco JA community. Its ongoing projects include the digital archiving of Nisei soldier objects and documents, and interviews with incarceration camp survivors.
*Ken Mochizuki, ‘Beacon Hill Boys’ continues to inspire after 30 years, International Examiner, Sep. 2015.