Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/243/

Center for Japanese American Studies in community

The reason I got involved was we had this Center for Japanese American Studies that we created in the community, because we knew that in Ethnic Studies, we couldn’t do everything we wanted to do because we’re tied into the system, where education comes in 3 unit modules 3 times a week in terms of a certain framework.

So we started, when Nancy and I were with this together, Center for Japanese American Studies in the community. We rented, or leased, buildings and a church. And we started Japanese language classes, conversational classes, ESL classes for the Issei who wanted to learn English. And then we had monthly forum, and we did what we thought needed to be done to understand Japanese American life. And we didn’t have to pass it through any bureaucracy. And we were thinking of putting in for grants and everything like that, and that’s why we had titled Center for Japanese American Studies. But we decided we’re just going to take membership fees and do everything by our own hook.


Center for Japanese American Studies, University of San Francisco education

Date: January 7, 2004

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Art Hansen

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

James Hirabayashi, son of hardworking immigrant farmers in the Pacific Northwest, was a high school senior in 1942 when he was detained in the Pinedale Assembly Center before being transferred to the Tule Lake Concentration Camp in Northern California.

After World War II, he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Anthropology from the University of Washington, and eventually his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Hirabayashi is Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University where he was Dean of the nation’s first school of ethnic studies. He also held research and teaching positions at the University of Tokyo, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Ahmadu Bellow Univerity, Zaria, Nigeria.

He passed away in May 2012 at age 85. (June 2014)

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