Nearly 70 years after Executive Order 9066 forced 250 California State University students to leave their campuses without completing their degrees, several former students’ stories will be brought to light with the screenings of the video “The California State University: Sharing and Celebrating Stories from Nisei Honorary Degree Recipients” at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
“The project is a memorial dedicated to the CSU students who had to leave our campuses in 1941-42 and were sent to internment camps or out of state, unable to complete their educations,” said Colleen Bentley, CSU director of special projects. “The CSU Board of Trustees awarded these students honorary bachelor’s degrees in 2010, and the videos capture the dignity of the ceremonies and follow-up interviews with the honorees or their families.”
The screening will be held Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m., in the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at JANM, 369 E First St., Los Angeles. Reservations can be made by contacting Kim Shibata or (562) 951-4811.
The San Diego screening will be held Monday, Feb. 6, at 4 p.m. in the SDSU Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. Complimentary community parking will be provided in Parking Structure 5, next to the Alumni Center.
The honorees and/or their families featured from San Diego State are June Kushino, Carl Yoshimine, and Barbara Mukai, daughter of Viola Midori Takeda.
George Takei, actor and member of the CSU Nisei Honorary Committee, provides the introduction for the videos, and Bob Suzuki, president emeritus, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, provides the narration. Assemblymember Warren Furutani, author of AB 37, the legislation that called on the CSU to award the honorary degrees, also is interviewed.
The production and dissemination of the video is funded by a $23,000 grant to the CSU Chancellor’s Office from the California State Library through the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and aims to honor the thousands of Californians of Japanese ancestry who were impacted by Executive Order 9066.
It is estimated that about 2,500 Japanese American students were forced to leave California’s colleges and universities, and at least 250 of them were from CSU campuses in Fresno, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and San Luis Obispo. The campuses searched their yearbooks, archives, library records, historical documents and other materials and were able to contact or locate about 125 of the 250 former students or their families.
Six inspiring commencement ceremonies were held at CSU campuses in spring 2010 at which the Nisei or their family members received honorary bachelor of humane letters degrees. Stories and videos of the ceremonies and subsequent interviews are located on the CSU Nisei honorary degree website, www.calstate.edu/nisei/.