Sue Embrey

(1923–2006) Community activist. Co-founded the Manzanar Committee

The Perspective of Youth Changing Minds Prevailing Within the System Fighting For What’s Right The Nisei Legacy

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Sue Kunitomi Embrey was born in 1923 in Los Angeles, CA. She grew up in Little Tokyo prior to World War II. At the age of 19 she was incarcerated at Manzanar with other persons of Japanese ancestry. There, she became editor of the camp newspaper, The Manzanar Free Press. After the war, Embrey spent a few years in the Midwest before returning to California in 1948 where she got married and started a career as a schoolteacher.

In 1969 Embrey helped organize the very first Manzanar Pilgrimage and soon after co-founded the Manzanar Committee that spearheaded the effort to designate Manzanar as a California State Historic Landmark and eventually a National Historic Site.

Initially, Embrey was one of the few who broke the Nisei generation’s silence about the internment. Instead of forgetting the past, Embrey chose to educate, first by sharing her experience with Sansei and Yonsei, and later by advising on the planning of the interpretive center at Manzanar that opened in 2004. Sue Embrey passed away in 2006 at 83 years old. (April 15, 2008)

internment world war II incarceration jacl NCRR redress civil rights NCJAR politics

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