Online Petition Urges USC to Grant Posthumous Degrees

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Attorney Dale Minami is urging concerned individuals to sign an online petition urging USC to grant posthumous honorary degrees to Nisei students who were forced to leave the university in 1942.

Dale Minami

The petition continues a campaign launched earlier this year when USC announced that it would present honorary diplomas to living Nisei and give honorary alumni status to those who are deceased. The commencement was held on May 11.

Minami, a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Minami Tamaki LLP and a USC alumnus (1968), wrote, “Several prominent graduates from USC have tried to convince the USC administration to grant honorary degrees to those deceased Nisei students who were uprooted during World War II during the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans.

“They were not allowed to complete their education and now, leaders like Jon Kaji (past president of the USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association) have asked that the USC administration grant them honorary degrees.

“While the administration has granted degrees to those Nisei still living, it steadfastly refuses to grant posthumous degrees to those who have passed on. This refusal is made even more objectionable because USC had refused to release transcripts for the Nisei for some time after they were imprisoned, foreclosing their opportunities to get admitted to other colleges.

“While USC’s granting of degrees to the living is applauded, there is still unfinished business for the heirs, families, relatives and ancestors of those who were victims of one of the greatest civil rights tragedies in American history.”

To view the petition, go to http://niseidiplomas.wordpress.com/.

Minami, who grew up in Gardena, graduated magna cum laude from USC and received his J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1971, co-founded such organizations as the Asian Law Caucus and Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, and was the lead attorney for the legal team that reopened Fred Korematsu’s wartime Supreme Court case.

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