1942 June 18

WW II Internment: “If They Do That to One Group, They Can Do it to Other Groups”


Mike Masaoka, Executive Secretary of the Japanese-American Citizens League (JACL), gave a speech in New York City on this day, warning that if the federal government can evacuate and intern one racial, ethnic or religious group, it can do the same to other groups. As he spoke, the federal government was in the process of evacuating 120,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast and interning them in what were euphemistically called “Relocation Centers.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the evacuation by executive order on February 19, 1942. The treatment of the Japanese-Americans is widely regarded as the greatest civil liberties tragedy in American history.

Read Masaoka’s story: Mike Masaoka, They Call Me Moses Masaoka: An American Saga (1987)

Read a first-hand account of the evacuation and internment: Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar (2002)

Watch an interview with Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDDFw5TGkJo

Learn more about the Japanese-American tragedy at the Densho Archive: www.densho.org

Read: Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (2001)

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