FRESNO — Nearly 70 years after Executive Order 9066 forced 250 California State University students to leave their campuses without completing their degrees, those students’ stories will be told in “The California State University: Sharing and Celebrating Stories from Nisei Honorary Degree Recipients.”
A screening will be held at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, at Fresno State’s Madden Library, Room 2206. Additional screenings are planned at other CSU campuses.
“The project is a memorial dedicated to the CSU students who were removed from our campuses in 1941-42 and sent to internment camps, 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 video captures the dignity of the ceremonies as well as the celebration of the families.”
Actor George Takei, a member of the CSU Nisei Honorary Committee, is featured in the video giving an introduction, and Bob Suzuki, president emeritus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, narrates. The video also includes remarks by Assemblymember Warren Furutani, who introduced the legislation authorizing CSU, University of California and California Community College campuses to award the honorary degrees.
Several honorees or their families will attend the Fresno State screening: Dr. Donna Arase, daughter of Harold H. Arase; Dr. Joan Otomo-Corgel and John Otomo “Bucky” Corgel, family of John Hiroshi Otomo; Susan Kiyoi, niece of Helen and Velma Yemoto; and Louise Isako Miyake.
The video production 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 to honor Californians of Japanese ancestry affected by Executive Order 9066.
It is estimated that about 2,500 Japanese American students were forced to leave California’s colleges and universities. At least 250 of them were attending CSU campuses in Fresno, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, San José and San Luis Obispo.