Books About the Incarceration of Japanese Americans Donated to S.F. School District

May 17, 2016 • Community, News

Pictured (from left) are Nob Fukuda, Somao Ochi, President Emily Murase and Superintendent Richard Carranza

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Board of Education formally accepted the donation of two books about the World War II incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry during a recent board meeting.

The first book, titled “The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II,” written by Jan Jarboe Russell, tells the story of two American-born teenage girls who were interned during the war and their years spent in the camp, their families’ struggles to survive, their subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the U.S., transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists. Their stories of day-to-day life at the camp — from the 10-foot-high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call and censored mail — have never been told.

Nob Fukuda addressed the board, sharing with them his family’s personal story as they were among those held in Crystal City for the duration of the war.

The second book, titled “Blossoms in the Desert: Topaz High School Class of 1945” is the collective effort of members of the Topaz High School Class of 1945 and recounts the experiences of the students’ high school education from September 1942-June 1945, all within the confines of the Topaz Concentration Camp in Utah.

Speaking on behalf of the Class of 1945, Somao Ochi expressed his appreciation that the board would provide a copy of the book to each of the middle and high school libraries within the district.

“The stories in the book are a record of high school students who were held behind barbed-wire fences in Topaz, Utah,” Ochi noted.

For more information, email Greg Marutani at education@jacl.org.

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