Dear USC President Nikias,
Without due process of law, during World War II, the U.S. government forcibly removed people of Japanese ancestry. Among those affected were college students who were taken away while in the middle of their school work and in many cases were never able to complete their studies.
On behalf of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), I am writing to express our appreciation for the decision of the University of Southern California (USC) to bestow honorary degrees to the Japanese American students who were unable to complete their degrees due to their unwarranted and unconstitutional incarceration during World War II.
However, we share the concerns of many within our community for your institution’s exclusion of some former USC students from this thoughtful and well-deserved recognition. Rather than limit this honor to the former USC students who are still living, I believe the honor should extend to all your Japanese American students who were denied the opportunity to complete their college studies during World War II.
The mistreatment of the Japanese American community during World War II was a great tragedy. The steps USC is taking to correct some of the consequences are commendable. The total number of USC students who were denied the opportunity to complete their studies in due course was small. But, the impact on their lives and the lives of their families was so great that I hope you will reconsider and extend your honorary degree program to help all the families with their emotional healing.
Thank you again for your Nisei honorary degree program and thank you so much for your consideration in this matter.
David H. Kawamoto
National JACL President