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OUR BOAST We print the news VOL. 1, ISSUE 1 A JAPANESE AMERICAN INTERNMENT A personal perspective: Q&A with George Takei INDEPENDENCE, CALIFORNIA FEBRUARY 1942 CTOR GEORGE TAKEI, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the "Star Trek" TV and movie series, was interned with his family during World War II. What camps were you sent to? We were forced out of our homes in Los Angeles. The first camp my family was sent to was Camp Rohwer in the swamps of Arkansas. The second camp we were transferred to was in northern California near the Oregon border, a camp called Tule Lake. It was a dry lake bed, always cold and windy. We were in Rohwer for a year and Tule Lake for three years, to- taling four years — the entire duration of World War II. What were the living conditions like at the camps? All 10 camps were in the most godfor- saken parts of the country — the blis- tering hot desert of Arizona, the sultry swamps of Arkansas, the cold, wind- swept high plains of Utah, Idaho, Wyo- ming and Colorado. Skimpy, tar paper covered army barracks with no plumb- ing, one latrine to a block, one laundry room, one mess hall, one mass shower — all communal. Each family had one wood-burning potbellied stove for heat. It was all very primitive. How did you feel about the reparations paid to the internees by the government in the '90s? President Reagan signed the Civil Lib- erties Act in 1988, and the first repara- tion check signed by President George H.W. Bush was cut in 1991, which went to the oldest survivor of the internment, a 101-year-old lady. I got my check in 1992, and I donated it all to the Japanese American National Museum. My father, EDITION $.50 Why should American citizens learn about this event? Americans need to know about the in- ternment of American citizens of Japa- nese ancestry because the internment happened to innocent American citizens without charges or trial. It was a terrible violation of the United States Constitu- tion. We need to know our history — good and bad — in order to keep this kind of outrage from being inflicted on other Americans. who suffered the pain of the internment most, had passed away by the time of the signing of the bill. He died never know- ing the government apologized, and my mother, his widow, received only her reparations check. Nothing was paid for my father. Has this event affected your outlook on life? The internment has forever shaped my life. I am an activist for justice and equality. I speak at universities and other institutions on the internment. We built the museum because I consider it my mission as an American to make our de- mocracy a better, more just democracy. We developed the musical Allegiance to tell this story in music and drama. What do you hope the audience will take away from "Allegiance"? The story of the internment is still little known in our country. I hope the audi- ence will leave the theater with a bet- ter understanding of the fragility of our democracy and the importance of all Americans to work to make our system a better, more just America. RESOURCES FOR TEACHING ABOUT THE JAPANESE AMERICAN INTERNMENT Farewell to Manzanar, memoir by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. It was adapted into a made-for-TV film in 1976. National Japanese American Historical Society curriculum for teaching about the internment, and other lesson plans. internment/lessonplans.html PBS documentary "Children of the Camps." childofcamp/documentary Library of Congress materials. classroommaterials/ primarysourcesets/internment 18 California Educator June/July 2012

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