Historian to recount internment

Photo by University of California Archive

Photo by University of California Archive

ALBANY, Ga. -- Japanese-American historian Don Hata, a emeritus professor of history at California State University Dominguez Hills, is the featured speaker at the Albany Civil Rights Institute's Monthly Community night Thursday.

Hata, born in Los Angeles in 1939, was just three years old when he and his family were rounded up by the U.S. War Relocation Authority's "concentration" camp at Gila River, AZ during World War II.

According to Wikipedia, "Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor."

The United States, however, was not the only country to detain its citizens of Japanese ancestry. Mexico, Canada and Peru had similar programs, although Peru shipped their people to the U.S.

Hata will speak on "Kids Behind Barbed Wire: Surviving the World War II Nikkei Gulag and Diaspora," his firsthand experience and research from the book, "Japanese Americans and World War II: Mass Removal, Imprisonment, and Redress," that he wrote with his late wife Nadine.

In the book, the Hatas have replaced inaccurate and misleading euphemisms such as "evacuation" and "internment" with more accurate terms like "mass removal" and "imprisonment."

According to Hata, there is an important connection between the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century and the Nikkei Redress Movement of the 1980s:

"Had it not been for the broader national context of African Americans standing up and speaking out for the full measures of rights and redress in places like Albany, Georgia, Nikkei might never have mustered the will and critical mass to demand a full and public accounting for what they had suffered," he wrote.

Thursday's monthly community night will be at 7:30 p.m. at ACRI, 326 Whitney Ave., Albany. The event is free and open to the public.

A book signing by the author will follow his presentation. Copies of "Japanese Americans and World War II: Mass Removal, Imprisonment, and Redress," 4th ed., will be available for $11 (tax included) in the ACRI gift shop.