Author to Relate Story of Carleton College’s 1st Nisei Student

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Frank Shigemura

Author Fred Hagstrom will discuss the story of Nisei Frank Shigemura, who was able to attend Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. during World War II for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Army, at a public program set for Saturday, July 23, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum.

Shigemura and his family were unlawfully incarcerated at the government-run concentration camp in Minidoka, Idaho. Thanks to the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council, which was administrated by the Quakers, it became possible for Nisei students to leave the camps to attend a college that was willing to accept them.

In his book, “Deeply Honored,” Hagstrom documents Shigemura’s story as he left Minidoka for Carleton College in 1943. Thanks to a series of letters Shigemura wrote to his family, Hagstrom is able to capture much of the story of the first Japanese American to attend Carleton. Shigemura then enlisted in the Army and fought with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was killed in France in October 1944.

In the aftermath, his parents were released from Minidoka. When Carleton produced a memorial “Gold Star” booklet for former students lost in the war, the Shigemuras made the first of many donations to the college.

Mrs. Shigemura wrote, “Frank has often mentioned in his letters about the fair treatment and kindness he received from both the faculty and the students of Carleton College. I cannot find words adequate enough to fully express our thanks.”

Eventually, Carleton established a scholarship in Frank Shigemura’s memory and named a room for him in its Memorial Hall.

Hagstrom is the Carleton College Rae Schupack Nathan Professor of Art. A widely respected artist and professor, he enjoys creating works that touch on social issues, as well as drawing from nature. In describing the evolution of his artistic interests and goals, Hagstrom says, “Art should be a part of people’s lives … It has the power to change the way we view the world.”

This program is free to JANM members or with admission. The museum is located at First and Central in Little Tokyo. For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.

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