Internment and Civil Rights

Asian-Americans had been singled out for discrimination in California for nearly a century before the war. Japanese-Americans in particular faced restrictive anti-immigration laws and legislation forbidding land ownership. This legacy of prejudice would find its fullest expression with the relocation of a whole people. The Japanese attacks along the California coast at the beginning of 1942 triggered calls for the removal of all Japanese in coastal areas. With the signing of Executive Order 9066, President Roosevelt began one of the greatest reversals of civil rights to take place in American history.

Shortly, over 112,000 Japanese living on the West Coast (including 93,000 in California) found their livelihoods, property, and lives under threat. Between 1942 and 1946, they would be forcibly evacuated to dozens of assembly, internment, and isolation camps.

Two of the ten US internment camps were in California at Tule Lake and Manzanar. Arrests and internment would not be limited to the Japanese, but would also include Italian-Americans. Many other ethnic and political groups would also be singled out as potential "enemy aliens" by the FBI and local law enforcement. Sadly, it would be decades before many received any formal apology or restitution.