As America was celebrating the end of World War II, Japanese Americans who had been forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast faced an uncertain future. Some never went home, settling instead in other parts of the United States like Chicago and Seabrook, New Jersey. Others took advantage of new career choices and educational opportunities. Still, racism was never far away, even as they sought to blend in, so much so that Japanese Americans were touted as the “model minority.”
In the 1960’s, Hawaii statehood led to the first Japanese Americans in Congress, and Norm Mineta and then Bob Matsui were elected to local office in San Jose and Sacramento. The Civil Rights movement inspired some in the baby-boom generation of Japanese Americans to join the push for ethnic studies, women’s rights and community redevelopment.
Later, pilgrimages to relocation centers played a key role in helping the Japanese American community deal with the pain of incarceration. Sacramento resident Georgette Imura recalls her journey to Tule Lake. Momentum built to seek redress from the U.S. government. The program reveals some surprising shifts in strategy before HR442 was signed into law in 1988 by President Reagan and it was formally acknowledged that internment was based on racism and merited an apology and reparation.