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In this episode we connect with Greg Robinson, author of the book Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road. As a professor of history at University of Quebec in Montreal, Greg shares about Canada's decision to incarcerate their Japanese citizens following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
We also discuss his book Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road and examine Miné's life as a young artist, working with Diego Rivera, before being incarcerated at Tanforan and Topaz following Executive Order 9066. Miné continued her art in the camps, documenting her experience and gaining attention from national publications and the War Relocation Authority. Her sketches and commentary ultimately culminated into her book, Citizen 13660.
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Greg Robinson, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at l'Université du Québec À Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the books By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy; Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), After Camp: Portraits in Postwar Japanese Life and Politics (University of California Press, 2012), Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era (University of Illinois Press, 2012), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016), as well as coeditor of the anthology Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road (University of Washington Press, 2008). Robinson is also coeditor of the volume John Okada - The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018).
His historical column “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” is a well-known feature of the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper. Robinson’s latest book is an anthology of his Nichi Bei columns and stories published on Discover Nikkei, The Unsung Great: Portraits of Extraordinary Japanese Americans (University of Washington Press, 2020). It was recognized with an Association for Asian American Studies Book Award for Outstanding Achievement in History Honorable Mention in 2022.
"...I grew up in at the late 20th century and all the movements, gay and lesbian movement, the environmental movement, the movement of disabled Americans, these were ways to give me an insight into the workings of society, but always there was a discussion of who was the majority versus the minority, and I came to question what is, what we would later call intersectionality, what is the connection between discrimination against people based on their ethnicity or based on their level of ability?"
Medium History explores memories and moments through creativity and expression, capturing the cultural ethos of that time and place through storytelling and representation. Visual material culture, such as art, and other multimodal forms can elicit responses, emotions, and opinions—human expressions, tied to temporal and cultural aesthetics. This program explores how creative mediums provide context for history beyond dates, and names, and figures.
Partnering with Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University, this series will explore how comics, comic books, and graphic novels from and about the Japanese American Incarceration following Executive Order 9066, humanize the tragic experience, allowing the stories to live long past the lives of those who experienced it, and ensuring this never happens again. Supported by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a state-funded grant project of the California State Library, this series is designed to be a companion to the interactive web project, Images and Imaginings of Internment: Comics and Illustrations of Camp.
Guest: Greg Robinson
Hosts: Jon-Barrett Ingels
Produced by: Past Forward
[00:00:03] Greg Robinson: She was taken from her home and placed in a place called Tanforan in the old abandoned racetrack outside of San Francisco, which was what the government called an assembly center, which was governed by the military and with very few rights for the people there. She agreed to join an art school as an instructor, an art school led by the famous artist Chiura Obata, but she also started to document the surroundings. In fact, she was so tired of people oming in and interrupting her that she put a quarantine sign on her door, and if people asked what she had, she'd say hoof and mouth disease, because, of course, they were all in horse stables.
[00:00:47] Host: Welcome to Medium History, a collaboration between Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Chapman University and the curious minds at Past Forward. This series is an exploration of history through multimodal art and expression, allowing us to uncover hidden complexities often overlooked by conventional textbooks. We observe visual material culture, that is the art, artifacts, music, storytelling, fashion, and other expressions of a particular time period, and consider its profound impact on our understanding of the past, going beyond mere dates and names to reveal the multifaceted layers of the human experience. It's about immersing ourselves in the emotions, opinions, and cultural subtleties that mold our world. In this series, we engage with authors, artists, and educators to cast a fresh perspective on the history of Japanese-American incarceration through the lens of creativity and expression, specifically the lens of the comic book and the graphic novel.
I'm your host, Jon-Barrett Ingels. In this episode, we connect with Greg Robinson, professor of history at the University of Quebec in Montreal and author of the book Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road, about the life of the artist who documented her experience in the Japanese Incarceration camps through her drawings and her paintings. Thank you for listening.
I'd love for you to share a little bit about yourself and how you found a passion for history.
[00:02:28] Greg: I think I've had a passion for history for a long time, and even as a little kid, I watched the musical film 1776, and was fascinated with the American Revolution and got my parents to take me to Philadelphia so I could see Benjamin Franklin's Grave and Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and all that. As I grew up, I explored historical sites, read up on history books. It wasn't necessarily a given that I would go into history as a profession, but I always had at least an interest in it, and then when I went to France for my junior year of college to perfect my French, I discovered that I had a knack for French history.
That is, I had taken American history courses, and I thought, well, maybe I just have a knack for it because I've been studying it all this time and I've been interested in it since childhood, but I actually had a way to connect the French history that I was learning that I knew nothing about at the beginning with the American history, things that I had already learned, the historical tendencies, the division of history into economics and politics and all the rest. I discovered that I actually had a knack for it that went past just what had interested me as a kid.
[00:03:45] Host: Now, in your work, you pay a lot of attention to the marginalized history of people of color here in America. What led to that exploration?
[00:03:58] Greg: Well, I started out as an African Americanist. I was fascinated by the civil rights movement and the struggle for equality. My parents had met because they were both interested in civil rights and had bonded over that long ago. I think that seeing the American society that I grew up in at the late 20th century and all the movements, gay and lesbian movement, the environmental movement, the movement of disabled Americans, these were ways to give me an insight into the workings of society, but always there was a discussion of who was the majority versus the minority, and I came to question what is, what we would later call intersectionality, what is the connection between discrimination against people based on their ethnicity or based on their level of ability? What is the connections between people of color in particularly?
[00:05:07] Host: Now, when working in Quebec, what is that experience of teaching American history, especially this traumatic history in another country removed from it?
[00:05:22] Greg: Well, the border is only 40 miles away.
[00:05:26] Host: Sure.
[00:05:27] Greg: In many ways, Quebec is and Canada are American spaces, they're North American spaces, and that actually makes it particularly interesting to teach students up here because they are Americans, they are North Americans. They have a familiarity with the culture and the history of the United States or at least the popular culture, and yet, particularly in French Canada, they have a distance both because of the border, but also because of the linguistic difference, and in fact, people in Quebec have access to history writing both in English and in French, which I think gives them an interesting advantage in trying to understand the United States and its history. They have a critical distance that Americans or even English Canadians don't have, but they have a familiarity and a closeness that, say, Europeans or Asians don't have.
"Then after Pearl Harbor, Canada west coast experienced the same anti-Japanese movements that you saw in California and Oregon and Washington state, where agricultural organizers and white nativists all called for mass removal of ethnic Japanese from the region."
[00:06:22] Host: One of the things in my research, and this is where I want to try not to get off the rails, because we could have an entire conversation about this, but looking at the parallels between Canada and the United States, I read an article you wrote about the incarceration of Japanese in Canada, and as I'm doing these podcasts, I'm constantly learning new things, and there's always this feeling of disappointment that I didn't know that. That I didn't know that on a pretty large scale there was this parallel in Canada, and again, we could have an entire conversation on this, but if you could, for our listeners who are also like me, uninformed, give a little bit of that history of how Canada followed the US after Executive Order 9066.
[00:07:15] Greg: Well, in many ways, it preceded the United States. That is, Canada had its own long history of discrimination against Japanese immigrants and their children, particularly in British Columbia, where 90% of them lived before World War II. They were excluded from the vote even if they were born citizens. When World War II came in 1939 against Germany and later Italy, Japanese Canadians were excluded from the draft because the white leaders in British Columbia feared that if they were drafted, they would have an irresistible argument for having voting rights, and they were all, again, whatever their birth or citizenship were forced to register as enemy aliens.
Then after Pearl Harbor, Canada west coast experienced the same anti-Japanese movements that you saw in California and Oregon and Washington state, where agricultural organizers and white nativists all called for mass removal of ethnic Japanese from the region. The difference is that in Canada, the army and the Navy, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police all said that there was no great danger of invasion and no danger from the Japanese Canadians who had no weapons or ways to express themselves. The greatest danger was to Japanese Canadians in case of rioting against them.
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Mackenzie King was sensitive to the pressure from West Coast political leaders, notably his minister, Ian Mackenzie, and so he at first envisioned a half measure. In January, 1942, several weeks before Executive Order 9066, he issued an order taking away all adult men, which eventually became to be seen as all men of whatever citizenship from a 100-mile radius inside from the Canadian West Coast, and sent them to road labor camps. He thought that this would be a good way to calm tensions and make a more realistic policy.
Instead, all it did was convince everybody that there was a danger and indeed embolden West Coasters to say, well, if there's a danger from the men, there could be danger from the women and the children, so we should get rid of everybody, and so it was that once Executive Order 9066 was issued, Mackenzie King issued his own order removing all Japanese Canadians from protected zone, again, about 100 miles in from the West Coast.
The difference is that while the Japanese-Americans were sent in family groups to government-built camps, the Canadians divided men and women and wanted to send men to road labor camps and women and children to either abandoned mining towns or to sugar beet farms in the west. Eventually, a group of Japanese Canadian citizens protested, and on the pain of getting arrested as enemy alien prisoners of war, they were able to persuade the Canadian government to send people in family groups, at least to those interior confinement sites.
Again, except for building shacks or one camp American style in the Canadian West Coast, the Canadian government wouldn't pay for food and clothing and schools and all the other things that the American government paid for. Instead, they confiscated people's belongings and sold them off to make them pay for their own internment and eventually gave people the choice of either moving themselves east or if they stayed where they were and refused to move being sent to Japan once the war was over. While the Japanese Canadians and their allies were able to remain, they were impoverished and scattered by the war, and it took them a long time to recover.
[00:11:29] Host: Yes, it's interesting. As you were saying, we are so close and it's just a border that divides us from Canada, yet here in the States, we don't learn any of this in our public education. We barely learn anything about our own experience, and the incarceration with Japanese here, but yes, I had never heard that before, so thank you so much for sharing.
[00:11:56] Greg: Yes. After I published my first book, By Order of the President, and I myself moved to Montreal and started learning more about the Japanese Canadians, it struck me that nobody had ever written a full history that was on a North American level. My second book, A Tragedy of Democracy, is devoted to exploring both the United States and Canada and indeed Mexico and the removal of Japanese from Latin America.
[00:12:24] Host: Right. Well, now we're going to do our transition to another book that you worked on, Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road. Miné Okubo's book, Citizen 13660 came out in 1946 as some of the incarceration camps were still open here in the states. Her book is considered the first documentation of life inside the camps, and the book is filled with sketches of camp life paired with her commentary and it's really one of the first graphic novels as in picture books that are not directed specifically to children. I'd love for you to talk a little bit about her upbringing because art is in Miné's blood. She came from a family of artists.
[00:13:17] Greg: Yes. Her mother had a brother who was Japanese who had studied in France and who died young. In later years, she had books that had a few canvases of his, photo images of them. Then her own mother came to the United States because she was part of a demonstration team that went to demonstrate Japanese handicrafts at the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase exhibition in 1904, although her mother must have been in advanced pregnancy by the time she got to St. Louis. I don't know whether she actually performed in the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition.
In the event at the end of 1904, Miné's eldest brother, Benji Okubo, who was an artist was born obviously he was not an artist from birth, but he in his youth worked with the Art Students League in Los Angeles and with other painters such as Hideo Date and Tyrus Wong, and did murals and did illustrations and such, and was quite an inspiration for Miné. Then Miné's eldest sister had shows in Riverside at the Mission Inn.
Miné, when she went to become an artist, certainly had a background that was comfortable to her and encouraging, and she wasn't alone. However, she was the first one that really got an education. She went to what was then Riverside Junior College, now Riverside Community College, and then to University of California, Berkeley.
"She became integrated into artistic circles in San Francisco. She participated in shows at the what's now SFMOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and was hired by the federal arts project to do murals. In fact, she worked on a mural with Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist."
[00:14:52] Host: Her career really started to blossom, and start to take off like her profession as an artist in the late 30s right before the war.
[00:15:04] Greg: That's right. She became integrated into artistic circles in San Francisco. She participated in shows at the what's now SFMOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and was hired by the federal arts project to do murals. In fact, she worked on a mural with Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist. She claimed that she was down at the bottom of the ladder holding the ladder for Rivera as he painted things and she would joke that she was the fourth daughter of his fifth wife.
She got a very interesting training in doing murals and then she started doing murals herself. Then she was given a fellowship to spend two years in Europe studying the great masters, but World War II started in Europe while she was on her fellowship, and so she came back early. She used to love to tell this story that when she was in Europe, she would wear a big parka that she had gotten because compared to California, Europe was quite cold in winter, particularly the Northern Europe, and they would see this tiny woman with an Asian face and an enormous parka, and they would say, "Where are you from?" She'd say, "I'm an Eskimo."
“Because of that involvement with Japanese groups, her father was arrested after Pearl Harbor as a dangerous enemy alien, but Miné herself, instead of being somewhere in Europe or in South America, was on the West Coast when Pearl Harbor came. She was still there in the spring of 1942, working on a mural for the army base at Treasure Island.“
[00:16:28] Host: Well, it's interesting too. Her life could have gone in a completely different direction because she barely was able to make it back before transport stopped.
[00:16:40] Greg: That's right. She got on the last boat back from Europe, she said when war was declared, and then she went back home. Then her mother who she'd been very close to died, and so she stayed around to help her father. Her father was quite lonely, and so he went and got involved in some Japanese fraternal or church groups, I forget which it was.
Because of that involvement with Japanese groups, her father was arrested after Pearl Harbor as a dangerous enemy alien, but Miné herself, instead of being somewhere in Europe or in South America, was on the West Coast when Pearl Harbor came. She was still there in the spring of 1942, working on a mural for the army base at Treasure Island. She received special permission to be exempted from the curfew that covered Japanese-Americans so that she could finish this mural, go stay there in the evenings, and then get home after dark.
[00:17:42] Host: Unlike other families, I guess they were all older at this point, but her and her family all went to separate camps, correct?
[00:17:52] Greg: Well, she had one brother that she went to the camp with, first to Tanofran and then to Topaz, but it's certainly true that her father was well interned by the Justice Department. Her brother Benji, I know, went to Heart Mountain, but you're quite right, she was just about 30 by the time that she left for camp, so yes, she was certainly an adult.
[00:18:12] Host: Now you're in this detention center, this incarceration camp, but she wasn't going to let her artistic voice be silenced. She pretty quickly got to work as an artist inside the incarceration camp.
[00:18:33] Greg: Right. Again, she was taken from her home and placed in a place called Tanofran in the old abandoned racetrack outside of San Francisco, which was what the government called an assembly center, which was governed by the military and with very few rights for the people there. She agreed to join an art school as an instructor, an art school led by the famous artist Chiura Obata, but she also started to document the surroundings. In fact, she was so tired of people coming in and interrupting her that she put a quarantine sign on her door. If people asked what she had, she'd say, hoof and mouth disease, because, of course, they were all in horse stables.
“In Topaz, the inmates, many of whom were from the San Francisco area and thus more literate, more experienced than others, set up their own literary and artistic magazine, which they called Trek. The idea being that they had trekked into the desert and they were now going to use it as a springboard to trek to the rest of the country. Miné volunteered to be the artistic director, so she did the cover designs, she did many of the interior illustrations.”
[00:19:20] Host: [laughs] That's funny. Then once she was transferred to Topaz she started working on Trek, will you tell us a little bit about what Trek was and what her work was for that?
[00:19:35] Greg: Yes. In each of the 10 War Relocation Authority camps, that is the quasi-permanent camps that the government set up for long-term confinement of Japanese-Americans that were in the interior of the United States, in the West, and in Arkansas, hers was in Utah. It was called Topaz. In each of the camps there was a camp newspaper, which was censored, but gave the inmates a chance to express themselves.
In Topaz, the inmates, many of whom were from the San Francisco area and thus more literate, more experienced than others, set up their own literary and artistic magazine, which they called Trek. The idea being that they had trekked into the desert and they were now going to use it as a springboard to trek to the rest of the country. Miné volunteered to be the artistic director, so she did the cover designs, she did many of the interior illustrations. She directed the artistic stuff.
"It was a drawing. I believe it's called 'On Guard.' It was of two concentration camp guards outside of the camp warming themselves in the cold weather. The pathos of, that she actually had pity for her jailers, or just the extraordinary fluency and excellence of the drawing, led to it winning a prize at the exhibition, and then being reproduced in the San Francisco Chronicle. That put Miné Okubo into the sites of the Chronicle."
[00:20:37] Host: You talked about this censorship of these periodicals from the camp. This whole time, Miné was sketching and painting her experiences and the conditions in camp. These images were being distributed. I'd love for you to talk about how they were distributed, how the Chronicle was able to obtain them, and then also how the War Relocation Authority could allow this.
[00:21:10] Greg: From the beginning, as you say, Miné was doing sketches of her life and surroundings in camp. There are different stories that she gave. One is that she created them for friends outside of camp, particularly friends in Europe who were worried about her, or that because no cameras were allowed in camp, that she needed to document almost like a documentary photographer what the conditions were like, or that she was interested in her own artistic advancement. Some of the sketches she made into full-fledged drawings and indeed paintings. Others remained as sketches.
In particular, she took two sketches and made them into full-fledged drawings and sent them off to an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. One of them won a prize. It was a drawing. I believe it's called “On Guard.” It was of two concentration camp guards outside of the camp warming themselves in the cold weather. The pathos of, that she actually had pity for her jailers, or just the extraordinary fluency and excellence of the drawing, led to it winning a prize at the exhibition, and then being reproduced in the San Francisco Chronicle. That put Miné Okubo into the sites of the Chronicle.
The Chronicle then invited her to submit some of her sketches of camp. She submitted some sketches, then added some comments on them. She didn't intend at first for the comments to be used, but the San Francisco Chronicle found them irresistible and they printed them alongside the sketches and interpolated a speech by Dillon Myer who was the head of the WRA. It was published in the middle of 1943 under the title, I believe, On Evacuations Hopes and Memories. That again brought her to the attention of the War Relocation Authority.
At that point, the WRA had finished incarcerating Japanese-Americans, and now was looking for a way to get rid of them, that is confinement was expensive, it was embarrassing. It was probably unconstitutional. The WRA leaders like Dillon Myer, who had never thought that mass removal was necessary, wanted desperately to get Japanese-Americans out of the camps so that they wouldn't form another dependent population or another ghettoized society, and so in collaboration with the army, they developed a joint board and a loyalty questionnaire which would allow people to swear loyalty to the United States, be judged on the basis of it, and be able to get parole to get out of camp. To make people outside of the West Coast, because again, they weren't sending people back to the West Coast.
The army had excluded people from the West Coast, but in order to say that these Japanese-Americans who are too dangerous for the West Coast are not too dangerous for your community, they were looking for all sorts of ways to show how great Japanese-Americans were. Miné Okubo was ready to collaborate in that mission. She thought it was of great importance for Japanese-Americans to get out of the camps, and so if that meant showing Japanese-Americans as good Americans, she would do that.
[00:24:36] Host: Aren't some of these images an embarrassment for the WRA of what the life inside the camp was like? Or are some of those more dehumanizing images, did that come later after her release?
[00:24:52] Greg: It came later after her release, but all of it was in the service. Again, she was not just writing propaganda for the government. She was trying to give a sense of the experience, but nonetheless, in her text rather than in the images, and in her approach that she took with publicity, she talked about how Japanese-Americans had managed to surmount these difficulties and build communities and be productive.
"Once she was in New York, she produced more drawings and a set of her camp paintings and sketches for a show that was put together by a pro-immigrant group called The Common Council for American Unity, who ran the magazine Common Ground. It was premiered in New York in April of 1945. The WRA sent photographers to the premier to show what a great show she was, how great it was that Japanese-Americans could resettle and be like other Americans."
[00:25:21] Host: Well, talk a little bit about her release and the funding, the success of these images and how it led to funding her release, or helping her relocate.
[00:25:34] Greg: After the article in the San Francisco Chronicle in Evacuees Hopes and Memories was published, probably with the aid of the WRA, Miné Okubo was recruited by Fortune Magazine, which was part of the time life empire, to help illustrate a special issue that they were doing on Japan. Within that issue, again, it's not clear, and different stories have been told about whether Miné herself suggested doing an article about Japanese-Americans, or whether it was the people at Fortune themselves who decided to do such an article, but whatever it was, she was recruited to do drawings for their article called [foreign language] on Japanese-Americans in the camps.
In order to make it possible for her to work, Fortune Magazine sponsored her to leave camp. In the end of January, 1944, she went from Topaz all the way to New York. She found a little studio with the help of Fortune Magazine, which she lived in essentially for the rest of her life, actually. She illustrated that issue. Her drawings were so powerful that they, and the other drawings from that issue which were produced by Taro Yashima and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, who were two artists from Japan who were living in New York. They were all included in a show that the WRA and its allies sent around.
Once she was in New York, she produced more drawings and a set of her camp paintings and sketches for a show that was put together by a pro-immigrant group called The Common Council for American Unity, who ran the magazine Common Ground. It was premiered in New York in April of 1945. The WRA sent photographers to the premier to show what a great show she was, how great it was that Japanese-Americans could resettle and be like other Americans. Then the show, after playing in New York, played all over the country. In the process, Miné became known as an artist of Japanese-American confinement.
Her sketches were produced in The New York Times, in a review of a book by Carrie McWilliams, in other locations. She even was featured in one of the glamor magazines, I think it was Cosmopolitan, as an example of young women artists professionals in New York. The Head of Common Ground, the editor, M. Margaret Anderson, took Okubo under her wing and tried to further her career, not only by sponsoring this show that, as I mentioned, opened in April, 1945, but by finding a publisher to publish a book-length collection of those camp sketches. That's what Miné worked on during 1945.
I don't know exactly when it was finished, but it must have been fairly soon after the end of the war, because it was, as you say, published in the middle of 1946 right after the closing of the last camp and when there were still Japanese-Americans confined at the government internment camps at Crystal City.
"Citizen 13660 was released at a time when Americans were still suspect. Miné herself said, 'Everything Japanese was like rat poison.' It didn't do very well."
[00:29:00] Host: When Citizen 13660 came out in 1946, what was the response from the public to these images and probably some of the only images that most of the public has seen of life in the camp?
[00:29:17] Greg: There were a few images in Ansel Adams' the famous nature photographer, did a study of Manzanar called Born Free and Equal, which he produced as a show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1944, and then published as a small pamphlet. There were a few images disseminating in the public, but certainly nothing with the intimacy and clarity of Miné Okubo's sketches.
Citizen 13660 was released at a time when Americans were still suspect. Miné herself said, "Everything Japanese was like rat poison." It didn't do very well. Certainly Japanese-Americans themselves bought it and allies of Japanese-Americans trumpeted the Harold Ickes who had been the Secretary of the Interior, and had supervision of the War Relocation Authority, did a laudatory column about it. They were wonderful reviews in different newspapers, but it didn't sell very well among the public, and it soon faded from view.
[00:30:28] Host: Let's talk a little bit about the second life that the book had, and it's resurgence, and also how it's connected to Miné's contribution to the Redress Movement.
[00:30:39] Greg: As I said in the years after 1946, the book was largely forgotten. Miné herself went on to a second career as an artist in New York. First doing murals like for a steamship company and participating in more artistic competitions, but finally making a niche for herself as an illustrator of books and magazines, and which is her main way that she supported herself during the 1950s and into the 60s.
During the 1970s as Japanese-Americans started opening up about the camp experience, and Americans started paying attention for various reasons to the history of the camps which is something that had been rather put into silence during the 1950s and into the 1960s, Miné's own work was rediscovered.
For example, Mills College in Oakland produced a show of her art including her camp art. There started to be shows of art from the camps that she would contribute to. She met younger artists at the basement workshop in New York. Citizen 13660 was itself rediscovered. First the historian Roger Daniels sponsored a publication by AMS press on a very small scale. Then a number of Redress activists, notably Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, proposed to University of Washington Press that they do a new edition of Citizen 13660.
There's a backstory there that they had refused to do an edition of John Okada's No-No Boy, and a group of Asian American writers put it out themselves, and it had a big success, and Washington asked whether they could actually take it. It said if you want No-No Boy you have to start, be more serious about working on Asian American texts. They persuaded University of Washington Press thus to do a new edition of Citizen 13660which was published in 1983.
"...in the early 1980s, when the Commission for Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, the government nominated historical commission that had been created to write a historical research and the study of the events of World War II and Japanese-Americans, held hearings in New York, she went to testify before the committee, and she introduced her book as evidence."
Incidentally there was around the same time the first Japanese edition. Much later in the beginning of the 2000s there would be a French edition. It was almost the first French language book about the camps other than a novel by Danielle Steele.
[00:33:07] Host: Wow.
[00:33:09] Greg: Anyway, Miné then used that book as part of her contribution to the Japanese-American Redress Movement. For example, in the early 1980s, when the Commission for Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, the government nominated historical commission that had been created to write a historical research and the study of the events of World War II and Japanese-Americans, held hearings in New York, she went to testify before the committee, and she introduced her book as evidence.
Similarly when she went to Washington DC for the Supreme Court hearings on Japanese-Americans, she did sketches that she published in a Japanese-American newspaper. The new edition of Citizen 13660 won an American Book Award and got much more attention and in fact has been in print ever since its started in 1983.
[00:34:13] Host: We'd like to thank Greg Robinson for his time, his knowledge, and his passion. Medium History is produced by Chapman University's Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Past Forward. For more socially conscious content, visit pastforward.org. Or follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you podcast.
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