Our friend Dr. Johanna Miller Lewis, history professor at UALR, reminds us that this is another significant day in history:
Sixty-five years ago today President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 ordering all Japanese Americans to “relocate” outside of a designated military exclusion zone covering most of the west coast for national security reasons.
While the Japanese Americans theoretically could move anywhere in the interior U.S. on their own, the requirements to be gone within a two-week time period which included selling all real and personal property (or have someone care and pay taxes on it) forced most of them to sell their businesses and belongings for pennies on the dollar before heading to government-organized “Assembly Centers.”
More than 110,000 Japanese Americans, 70% of whom were U.S. citizens, ended up in “War Relocation Centers” dispersed through the trans-Mississippi West. Most of the Centers were west of the Rocky Mountains, save two – Jerome and Rohwer – which were located in the Arkansas delta.
17,000 Japanese Americans passed through the barbed wire gates of Jerome and Rohwer between 1942 and 1945. A number of Arkansans were born in camp (see photo of Richard Yada). While Gov. Homer Adkins and the state legislature weren’t too happy to have the JAs living in Arkansas, the people of the delta considered them “white” and came to empathize with them.
To learn more about the plight of Japanese Americans in World War II Arkansas, come and see “Time of Fear” the award-winning documentary at the “Reel Civil Rights Film Festival” at Market Street Cinema on Saturday, March 10 at 7pm. You can also visit www.lifeinterrupted.org.