The following was excerpted from press releases issued by the California State University system.
California State University System To Grant Honorary Degrees To Japanese American Internees: Seeking Former Students Who May Be Eligible
LONG BEACH, CA — The California State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to grant honorary bachelor’s degrees to Japanese Americans who were enrolled at CSU campuses and forced to internment camps during World War II.
The first degree was awarded September 23, 2009, to Aiko Nishi Uwate, a Japanese American woman who was removed from San Francisco State University and sent to the Gila River concentration camp in Arizona. The posthumous degree was accepted by Uwate’s daughter, Vivian Uwate Nelson, a resident of Los Angeles County.
The Trustees’ action followed legislation authored by Assemblymember Warren T. Furutani in 2009 that directs California’s postsecondary education institutions to extend honorary degrees to individuals who were unable to complete their post-secondary education due to their forced incarceration during World War II.
“AB 37 is an opportunity for our state to honor Americans of Japanese descent who suffered a significant injustice,” said Furutani. “This legislation reflects our state’s commitment to correcting this ‘unfinished business’ for a waning population of deserving students.”
By some historical accounts, nearly 250 Americans of Japanese descent were students attending CSU campuses when the order for removal was issued. Campuses established by 1942 include Chico, Fresno, Humboldt, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Jose and the California Maritime Academy. While records show some students went on to receive a university degree, many did not.
“Hundreds of students were removed from colleges and universities, forced to delay or abandon their dreams based solely on their ancestry,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “The internment of Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants during World War II represents the worst of a nation driven by fear and prejudice. By issuing honorary degrees, we hope to achieve a small right in the face of such grave wrongs.”
The California State University is asking for public assistance in identifying individuals who qualify for the honorary degree. Former CSU Students (or families of students) whose studies were interrupted due to the internment are urged to call (562) 951-4723, or send e-mail to: email@example.com. Further information is available at Nisei Diploma Project – CSU.
You can also watch a video below featuring Reed, who spoke of the CSU’s desires to honor their former Japanese American students who were forced to leave their respective CSU campuses during World War II.
SDSU: A Measure Of Restitution
SDSU: A Wonderful Gesture
California State University Searches For Former Japanese American Students
San Jose State University To Honor Former Japanese American Students
Fresno State: Public Help Sought To Contact Japanese American Alumni
Honorary Degree To Fresno State Alumnus Interned In WW II
The Manzanar Committee’s Official Blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official Blog – Licensing and Copyright Information.