Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at l'Université du Québec À Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the books By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy; Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), After Camp: Portraits in Postwar Japanese Life and Politics (University of California Press, 2012), and Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era (University of Illinois Press, 2012) and coeditor of the anthology Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road (University of Washington Press, 2008). His historical column “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” is a well-known feature of the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper. Robinson's latest book is The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016).

Updated June 2017

war en

Tsuyoshi Matsumoto—A Different Wartime Story

The Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 had immediate repercussions for Japanese Americans living throughout the nation—not least the Issei and Nisei civilians in Hawaii living near the naval base who were wounded by falling bombs. Amid the nationwide confusion and anger that resulted from the attack, people with Japanese faces were targeted for hostility, harassment, and insults, as well as official discrimination. 

Particularly targeted were the Issei. Barred by law from naturalization, however long they had resided in the United States, they had none of the legal protections of citizenship. Even before Congress voted a Declaration ...

Read more

sports en

Be a Good Sport About it: Early Nikkei Athletes in Louisiana

Over the past several years, I have been engaged in large-scale research on the remarkable and largely-unknown history of ethnic Japanese in Louisiana, especially in the cosmopolitan city of New Orleans. (Readers of Discover Nikkei should check out the groundbreaking series on the subject by Anna Kazumi Stahl and Midori Yenari). One particularly noteworthy aspect of the story of Nikkei in Louisiana during in the first half of the 20th century is the record of their participation in sports, especially at the college level. To be sure, there were only a handful of individuals involved: with such a tiny and ...

Read more

politics en

Loren Miller: African American Defender of Japanese American Equality

Loren Miller (1903-1967), an African American attorney and newspaperman from Los Angeles, worked to build American democracy during a career that spanned almost 40 years. Although Miller worked with the National Lawyers Guild and numerous other organizations, he made his most lasting contributions as a civil rights lawyer during the 1930s and 1940s, in association with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union. However, in addition to his primary work on behalf of African Americans, Miller’s efforts as a defender of Japanese Americans deserve extended study.

Born in Nebraska and ...

Read more

culture en

Not Just a Single Man: Christopher Isherwood's Nisei Connections

Christopher Isherwood’s short novel A Single Man, which has won increased sales and attention in recent years as a result of Tom Ford’s luminous 2009 screen adaptation, stands as a groundbreaking piece of literature. Published in 1964, five years before the Stonewall riots and the birth of the modern LGBT movement, the book is often referred to as one of the first works of modern queer literature, in that it features a gay protagonist who is “normal” (i.e. not evil or self-hating because of his sexuality) and suggests that homosexuals in America represent a minority group who ...

Read more

war en ja es pt

Defending Nikkei: Hugh Macbeth and the Japanese American Internment

Hugh Macbeth, Sr., a Black attorney from Los Angeles, is largely forgotten today, but he deserves commemoration as an outstanding defender of Japanese Americans during World War II. Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1884, Hugh Ellwood Macbeth attended Fisk University and Harvard Law School, graduating in 1908. After living several years in Baltimore, where he was founding editor of the newspaper The Baltimore Times, in 1913 he headed to California.

In the decades that followed, Macbeth became an important player on the Los Angeles legal and political scene. He concentrated on aiding African American litigants and criminal defendants, and ...

Read more