California State University Unveils Nisei Diploma Project Video at JANM
(January 5, 2012) - Nearly 70 years after Executive Order 9066 forced 250 California State University students to leave their campuses without completing their degrees, several former students' stories will be brought to light in January 2012 with the screenings of the video The California State University: Sharing and Celebrating Stories from Nisei Honorary Degree Recipients at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles.
"The project is a memorial dedicated to the CSU students who had to leave our campuses in 1941-42 and were sent to internment camps or out-of-state, unable to complete their educations," said Colleen Bentley, CSU director of special projects. "The CSU Board of Trustees awarded these students honorary bachelor's degrees in 2010, and the videos capture the dignity of the ceremonies and follow-up interviews with the honorees or their families."
The screening will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, January 22, in the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at JANM, 369 E 1st St., Los Angeles, CA. Reservations can be made by contacting Kim Shibata or (562) 951-4811.
George Takei, actor and member of the CSU Nisei Honorary Committee, provides the introduction for the videos, and Bob Suzuki, president emeritus, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, provides the narration. Assembly Member Warren Furutani, author of AB 37, the legislation that called on the CSU to award the honorary degrees, also is interviewed.
The production and dissemination of the video is funded by a $23,000 grant to the CSU Chancellor's Office from the California State Library through the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and aims to honor the approximately 120,000 Californians of Japanese ancestry who were impacted by Executive Order 9066.
It is estimated that about 2,500 Japanese American students were forced to leave California's colleges and universities, and at least 250 of them were from CSU campuses in Fresno, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, San Josť and San Luis Obispo. The campuses searched their yearbooks, archives, library records, historical documents and other materials and were able to contact or locate about 125 of the 250 former students or their families.
Six inspiring commencement ceremonies were held at CSU campuses in spring 2010 at which the Nisei or their family members received honorary bachelor of humane letters degrees. Stories and videos of the ceremonies and subsequent interviews are located on the CSU Nisei honorary degree website.