When Warren Furutani was growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s, he sometimes heard his parents refer to a place where they once spent time — a place they called “camp.” To him “camp” meant summer camp or a … Continue reading →
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible I'm roman Mars when we're in for a tiny was going up in LOS Angeles. In the nineteen fifties, he sometimes heard his parents refer to a place. They once spend time place. They called camp in Camp Ashraf. For me, what summer camp, where the? Why camp? So? What is this camp thing? They keep talking about the fact did its brought up here and there, but not elaborated on. He can't help but wonder what they must do much more to the sword Warren was right. There was a lot more the story producer. Fitzgerald. During but war to the. U S: government incarcerated Warren for autonomous parents, along with over a hundred ten thousand other Japanese Americans in remote detention centres when they talked about camp. That's what they met in college in the nineteen sixties, Warren got involved in the civil rights movement and the Asian American Movement
and ass, he got more politically active. He started to research, his people's history here and to find out what had happened to his parents and other japanese Americans during the war one day he was that Vietnam WAR protest with his friend Victor Shabata, and they started talking about how they wanted to organise a march for the asian American Community, but They didn't know where to go and victor and civil justice camps that our What what? What are these camps? We started talking to some people about this place, commands, and I was the closest camp to LOS Angeles. Amazon. Dammit Lupus just go up there and just find, It wasn't going to be easy to find after world war, two nor had been completely dismantled by ninety. Sixty nine. There were hardly any signs of it left, but war.
Victor spoke with some people from their parents generation and learned at the camp had been located a few miles past the town of Lone Pine off route, three hundred and ninety five and then a big Green auditorium building was still standing being he was by the highway department, store machinery and so on a clear fall day. The two men hopped in Victor she bought as old, triumph convertible and went looking for this place called man's and are they drove north out of allay about four hours, for the Sierra Nevada Mountains and ended up in a high desert valley. There was totally desolate but a few miles outside of loan time. They found the green building and they turn DA, the highway onto a small dirt road tumble weeds, No trees, lot of underbrush in. In the background, the Sierra Nevada mountains covered in snow. It was this dramatic, a landscape, as you could imagine the two men continue driving through the desert and then suddenly they came across
an old white pillar with companies lettering on it. Just was standing just like you was waiting there to be discovered. It was the original pillar marking the man's and our cemetery, and it was surrounded by faded gravestones of people who had died while in the camp they explored the area. Further. Warren and eventually came across a big pile of debris and we found all of these broken dishes and on the back of the dish, sir, Army Dinnerware with dates on indifferent things. We, finally was like an archaeological dig. It revealed the store reality call can. The two young men had found the remains of a camp that only a few decades earlier had imprisoned over ten thousand Japanese Americans in the process. They, for helping uncover a dark chapter in. U S, history, that a lot of people at the time would have rather forgotten.
The incarceration of japanese Americans torn war war too, was even mentioned in most Highschool history textbooks in the sixties. There was no books stories, no information confined in the card catalogue in the library, so We saw deriving our own history and part of writing that history, men drawing attention to man's and our itself, one warning Victor founded the place had no oh historical, designation, no sign and no plaque, but that was all about to change, worn and victor Drawback to LOS Angeles, but they knew they wanted to come back and bring more people with them. Next time and there's a thing and japanese car Hocker mighty. Will you have a pilgrimage back to important place and so on a December morning in nineteen, sixty nine over a hundred and fifty people piled into
cars and vans and buses on a pilgrimage to man's and are going to that part of California. At that time. A year was, is stoop call. It was so cool. But the shivering pilgrims followed Warren and victors directions to the cemetery. So I cleaned up to cemetery in we brought paint wire bushes scraped. Everything down and rape the monuments. We did. A lot of work in turn Refurbishing, the area we knew we were coming back, most of the people on the pilgrimage were younger, Japanese Americans, who had never spent time at camp, but there were a few people there that to actually lived at man's and are one of the was sue, couldn't tell me embryo, from LOS Angeles, this worry of how she ended up in this desolate valley begins in
Eighteen forty one I was far eighteen I have finished high school in January and help me. My mother, take care of small grocery store, which she had purchased just the year before sue. Embryo died in two thousand, and six. This audio is from an interview she did with Densher the japanese american legacy project back in two thousand to others. That came to our neighbourhood with data may the third and we had to leave on eight and nine, which meant we had about five five days to pack up all their belongings and report demands and are. The camp was one of ten set up by the: U S: government, to imprison japanese Americans during World WAR to follow, the bombing of Pearl Harbor Anti japanese racism reached a fever pitch in the United States, but very leaders repeatedly questioned the loyalty of all people of japanese descent without evidence and then in nineteen forty two president
was about signed, executive order, nine, zero, six, six, paving the way the incarceration of thousands of japanese Americans on the West Coast. Here's a clip from authorities, propaganda, film, justified decision when the japanese attack Pearl Harbor, our West Coast became Tangible combat zone living that's over more than a hundred thousand persons of japanese ancestry, two thirds the american citizen, one third, alien We know that some among them were potentially dangerous material, It is therefore determined that all of them an alien life would have them whose families had to sell property quickly, often at a fraction of its value, some rented out their homes or left them with friends, but others. The in them altogether on. May? Ninth Susan, Her widowed mother and her six brothers and sisters all went to the train station. They were told that they could.
Only bring what they could carry with them. I kept thinking were american citizens on their doing this to us, and we have no right. Nobody to speak up for. They arrived at man's and are in the dark. And found their way to their assigned barrack. The camp was too I did into thirty six residential blocks, each with fourteen barracks to latrines and a mess hall families were usually allowed to sleep together. At eight caught are canvas. Cod known Petitions of any kind we all slept there. One day grew. In total, there were eight hundred buildings and over ten thousand people packed into one square mile when the hardest. Parts of life at camp was the total lack of privacy. The latrines were completely open, exposed with no stalls are divided between the showers or toilets. So the beginning. People like my mother would stay up late, hoping to take a shower
Her neighbor so wrong, but they all stayed up late. They all wanted to take the shower and Privacy five strand barbed wire fence. Encircled. The entire camp, with eight guard towers around the perimeter scarred tower at a searchlight, and us older with a machine gun. I remember going but one day one night shortly following: the only way to them a train. If everyone remembers those searchlights men, was undoubtedly a prison, but the people inside did everything they could to turn it into a livable city. They had schools, churches and clubs, baseball fields in basketball, courts, people built rock gardens and planet. Hours and vegetables, and if a real attempt to verify their surrounding- and I think it really it helped the morale of the people.
The camp also had its own newspaper ironically called the man's nor free press, we're sue embryo worked. As a rapporteur and editor mentioned, operated through the end of the war during at time there were several legal challenges to the camps, but each time the court's upheld the constitutionality of japanese american incarceration. On November twenty, first soggy and forty five, a few, the after the? U S, bombed, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nearly four years after the camp at first opened, the government closed manner for good and dismantle the camp, Families were forced to move once again, people who couldn't or to leave on their own were given a bus ticket and twenty five dollars, often You didn't have a home to go back to When sue embryos, parents returned to LOS Angeles, they found that their old grocery store and house had been demolished after sue. Could Koona told me Emory left camp. She moved to the midwest for a little while, but ultimately ended up back in LOS Angeles, but it bothered.
How little people talked about what japanese Americans had been through during the war? So when she, heard about a bunch of young college students making a pilgrimage demands nor she decided to join them. Which brings us back to that winter day in nineteen, sixty nine, when around one hundred and fifty people travelled to man's nor to draw attention to what had happened there The media showed up at this pilgrimage in December. Wind, howling, very cold. That's Bruce Emory Sue son. He says his mom and another person who had also been imprisoned, Manson are began telling reporters what life had been like there during the war and caused an uproar I mean people were just completely aghast that anyone would speak to the broader public outside the confines of the japanese american community.
About what happened: the older generation. They were mad again Warren for a tiny who helped organise the pilgrimage. Why are you bring in this up? It's better left forgotten. You know it, sir, the hatchet spin buried leave at bury, but these activists were just getting started, especially sue Emory. I think the pilgrimage made understand how important the site was to the community. And I think in particular how the community itself had to come to grips with what happened. Following the nineteen sixty nine pilgrimage, Sue Emory Warren for a and others form demands, and our committee, with the specific, All of getting this I recognised as a historic landmark. We felt that we needed society to acknowledge this fact, not let it be buried
in the back pages or in a simple paragraph in the history books They lobbied hard for three years, all the while continuing nearly pilgrimages to the site in the. Teen. Seventy to the state of California designated man's a state landmark and agreed to install a bronze plaque. It was one of the first public acknowledgement. Of what had happened there during the war. So the worrying the plaque became a huge issue, particularly the quest of what to call manner was it occurs, sensation, camp and interment camp a relocation centre. Missis ill contentious today, some people, don't like the term concentration camp because its associated with nazi genocide, then again, interment camp feels like a euphemism. Let my mother, my you're, someone call it in term and she's with. Ninety three year old white, haired, petite dynamo shield, kick your ass.
In the end, after a few fiery meetings, demands and our committee convince the state to plan, should read as follows. In the early part of, where to Britain. Ten thousand persons of japanese ancestry were interned in be location centres by executive order, nine, zero, six six manner. First of ten such concentration camps was bounded by barbed wire and guard towers, confining ten thousand persons, the majority of which being american Citizens maybe injustices and humiliation suffered here as a result of hysteria of racism and economic exploitation. Emerge again. California register Historical landmark number eight, fifty fifteen hundred people attended the nineteen seventy three pilgrimage to watch the plaque get installed, but. Didn't go over to EL, with some folks who lived in nearby towns within weeks.
You shot at full shotgun pellets. Someone took an axe to it. I am she's aloft. The word racism. Can still see the bullet holes on the black today Sue, Emory and amends, and our committee were undeterred. In fact, they were already thinking bigger They wanted man's and are to be a national historic site. It's important note that all this was occurring alongside a larger fight for redress and reparations several jobs, American organizations had demanded an official apology from the: U S, government and payments for those who, been incarcerated during the war and in night one. Eighty, eight president rate, Inside the civil liberties ACT, giving too a thousand dollars in reparations to every living person who had been sent to a camp. He had no payment and make up for those lost years. So what is most Important in this bill has less to do with property than with honour. For here we admit a wrong here. We
reaffirm our commitment is a nation to equal justice under the law Sue embryo was very involved in the redress movement and she wanted to keep the momentum going in the fight to get man's now turned into a national historic site, but the man Our committee face stiff opposition from the LOS Angeles Department of Water in power. The deed BP, actually owned the land and the rights to its water. So here come was this middle aged woman, saying no, this land is really significant to us, are community and to the in the and we want it to be. A national park do you know if he didn't want any part of that them, Our committee ended up. Drafting legislation for Congress and Sue embryo flew to Washington DC to testify before the. U S and Sub Committee on public lands, national parks and forests. She says: Democracy is a fragile concept.
As good and strong as the people who practices Let us tell the world that we are people strong and resolute acknowledging the heirs of our past in order not to repeat them in the future. And this is the legacy which we believe the master historic site, and then I was declared a national historic sites But apart from the cemetery, our third ninety ninety two man's in our was declared a national historic site. But apart from this, There was hardly anything there. The national Port Service had to decide how they wanted to memorialize. This injustice before the committee than included people who had been incarcerated and manner, and they can and he decided that they didn't just want a museum were visitors, could read about what happened on placards.
They wanted to rebuild portions of the camp exactly as they had been during the war, so that visitors could feel what life had been like see walking It's a empty room, although we have a cod and a stack of army, blankets and a stack of mattress covers a bunch of caught up against the wall. This is a lethal lynch of demands and our national historic site. Showing me a rebuilt barrack. She says they tried hard to get it right, but it still not as harsh as it would have been when people arrived here back and nineteen for, we too should be dart blowing up to the floor. The building should be creaking, the thing is we have the option of either building because they were, but not allowing p, but to walk in because they wouldn't be safe for people to come into, or we can rebuild them to earthquake standards, excessive all these standards and that's why we chose to do outside. There's a dirt basketball, cork with white metal who
and a one way road tracing a long and winding circuit through what used to be the camp sign both along the way show where specific buildings once stood in some places. Cracked, concrete foundations and the remains of rock gardens are still visible or have been unearthed in the distance. As you can see, a rebuilt guard tower its forty feet tall with life let us would sides and a giant searchlight at the top. It was very kind commercial because, a lot of the locals, especially did not want it to have a guard tower because people don't want it to, reflect badly on the community, but the boxer has continued to see. Guidance from folks who had actually lived at the camp more time people have said over and over the most important thing to show or the guard towers and the latrines I've had people you're really say you know we're glad the visitors shudder. We really like that. You have the barracks
but no one will ever understand until they go in and see that Roma toilets Elisa Lynch takes me to the sites. Newest addition, a replica of a woman's latrine the building was an open to the public when I visited. But she showed me inside it's just an open room. Does long trough sink in a row of five toilets with no diviners, between them you here over and over about the humiliation. You know, I've heard women talk about having your first period in public, no, which I think is a very personal thing to all people, all women and there's no privacy here, Lynch spoken with hundreds of people who lived at manner and they all have different perspectives on their time at camp. Some people fondly remember the friendships they built here. Others say the experience tore their family apart. Yes had baseball teams,
it also had a hundred and twenty armed soldiers? You know? Yes, it has. Beautiful gardens, but it also had guard towers. She just once the site to show the full messy history of what happened here. I think the national parks represent America at its best. Americans, at their best and I think, it's also good- that we look at the times and we haven't been our best and it's a lesson for the future. This site exists. This national park exists because of the efforts of ordinary people to make sure this their story wasn't so the way by the wind or buried by those that don't want be reminded of of the weaknesses of some in our past, that's Bruce Emory, again Every spring he's one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who come to man's and are for the annual pilgrimage, though on that started back in nineteen sixty nine they hold.
Religious ceremonies and drumming performances and remember what happened here together, but it's not just for japanese Americans lately, Since my eleven The pilgrimage has has always had a speaker. From the muslim community. Recent years the activists who led the pilgrimage have tried to connect the wartime discrimination against japanese Americans with Contemporary discrimination? its Muslim Americans. In the name of security. It's really important that the parallels what's happening today get raised, and this is, Story, I think that needs to be amplified and am sure from the rooftops, so that America doesn't embark on some of this same non, productive, racist behaviour,
this year's pilgrimage will happen on April. Twenty ninth and Bruce thinks it'll be the biggest yet Ninety nine percent of was polices week by image Gerald, which refuses to anyhow each other. In an Me Roman, Mars. Katy me Is our senior editor critical, steady, the digital director in turn, measure is the office.
All regional music was composed this week by Sharia. Special thanks to Densher, japanese Mary legacy project in the men's, nor national historic sites for the use of their interview with sue empty. Tons of remarkable oral histories of japanese american incarceration. You can check out at DEN show dot Org We have really amazing images of man's in order to complement this episode that you should really check out by Angela atoms and or the Lange for some weeks, dunning contemporary photos that Emmett took while he was up there there on a website they ninety, I don t we
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.