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Reaction to a 1942 speech by Mike Masaoka, Japanese American Citizen League's National Secretary

I: Do you remember attending a speech that Mike Masaoka gave in Los Angeles?

Yes. He came back from San Francisco and met with the [United States government] authorities. And he came back and we were in the Dai-Ichi Gakuen in J-town. He came back and said, "Without rancor, without bitterness, evacuate!" And so I thought, "Who the hell is he coming from Salt Lake City and Denver to evacuate me because I had property here and I had a business here." I felt very bitter about moving.

*"I" indicates an interviewer (Daniel H. Inouye).

 


discrimination interpersonal relations World War II

Date: March 2, 2006

Location: New York, United States

Interviewer: Daniel H. Inouye

Contributed by: Asian/ Pacific/ American Studies Program and Institute, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.

Interviewee Bio

George Katsumi Yuzawa was born in Los Angeles, California in 1915. He and his family were incarcerated at the Amache concentration camp in Colorado in 1942 through 1943. After their release in 1943, Yuzawa resettled in New York City. His family joined him in New York City in 1944. Soon after, he volunteered to join the United States Army for which he served two years in the Military Intelligence sector. After his discharge, he operated an import and export business in New York City. Eventually, he closed his business to assist his father?s florist business.

Yuzawa was an active civil rights activist in the 1970s and '80s in the New York chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) where he protested and filed lawsuits against people who denigrated the Japanese with signs in front of businesses and public transportation. Two major campaigns that Yuzawa spearheaded was the Kenzo Takada controversy and the ILGWU (International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union) anti-Japanese subway poster campaign. As a result of these campaigns, Yuzawa and other fellow Nisei activists formed the Asian Americans for Fair Media, Inc. He was also active in the Redress Movement and helped coordinate the 1981 CWRIC (Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians) hearings in New York City.

Yuzawa helped organize the first sakura matsuri (cherry blossom festival) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He also founded the non-profit organization, Japanese American Help for the Aging, Inc. (JAHFA) to provide seniors with bilingual assistance, in senior housing and other services. He has devoted the last quarter of the 20th century to supporting the needs of senior citizens in his community.

He passed away on October 2011.(October 2011)

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