BERKELEY — The Guest Lecturer Series for Asian American/Asian Diaspora Studies 122, “Japanese American History: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives,” will start on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 554 Barrows Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

Chizu Iiyama (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto)

With “Life Behind Barbed Wire: Lessons for Today” as the topic, AA/ADS 122 will be hosting a Q&A session with community elder Chizu Kitano Iiyama, a long-time Bay Area civil rights activist.

Born and raised in San Francisco, she was a senior at UC Berkeley when war broke out between the U.S. and Japan on Dec. 7, 1941. It was while she was living in a horse stall at the Santa Anita Assembly Center that she received her diploma from the university.  She served as assistant director of the Education and Recreation Department while at Santa Anita, and as a social worker at the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah.

Iiyama has been active with a number of organizations over the years as an educator and a leader, including the Early Childhood Education Program at Contra Costa College, the Richmond and El Cerrito Human Relations Committees, the National Japanese American Historical Society, the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, and the Japanese American Citizens League. 

Her siblings include the late Harry Kitano, a noted social scientist at UCLA.

This lecture is the first of a series that the course will be sponsoring this semester. Students, staff, faculty, and community members at large are welcome to attend. For additional information, contact Professor Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani at

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