James A. Hirabayashi

James Aikira Hirabayashi (1926-2012) had a distinguished thirty-year academic career at San Francisco State University which included the position of Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Dean of Ethnic Studies. In the latter position, he is recognized for his pioneering leadership in establishing the nation's first School (now College) of Ethnic Studies. He has also held research and teaching positions at the University of Tokyo, Japan, and University of Zaria, Nigeria, Africa. Over the course of his career, Dr. Hirabayashi also provided guidance and direction to the Japanese American National Museum's educational and curatorial programs which included its collections, exhibitions, public education programs, film, and research.

Updated August 2018

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Enduring Communities

Four Hirabayashi Cousins: A Question of Identity - Part 2 of 5

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Grant Jiro Hirabayashi

Grant Jiro Hirabayashi was born in November 1919. He was named after the Rev. Ulysses Grant Murphy, a Methodist minister and former missionary to Japan who befriended the Mukyokai group. Grant’s father, Toshiharu, was considered the most knowledgeable among the Mukyokai fellowship, since he had attended academy in Hotaka longer than any of the others. Grant’s early religious exposure came from his family setting: “My parents made sure we went to church. I had at least three Bibles for perfect attendance so there was something passed on; the twelve years I spent here ...

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Enduring Communities

Four Hirabayashi Cousins: A Question of Identity - Part 1 of 5

The sudden onset of World War II on December 7, 1941, thrust the issue of identity to the forefront for all Japanese Americans. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the War Department to prescribe military areas from which any or all persons might be excluded. This order served as the basis for Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt to issue the curfew and exclusion orders. Public Proclamation No. 3 established a curfew from 8:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. for Japanese Americans in Military Area No. 1, which covered the western ...

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“Concentration Camp” or “Relocation Center” - What’s in a Name?

It was almost 20 years ago when I read an article by Dexter Waugh in the San Francisco Examiner titled “Semantic debates on war camps” (May 7, 1976). The issue revolved around the use of terminology on a plaque commemorating Tule Lake as a state historic landmark.

At the time I exchanged several letters with the chair of the State Historical Resources Commission, a fellow anthropologist, who voted against the use of the term “concentration camp”, saying that he did not believe in editorializing on these plaques. I argued that we should call what Webster calls them: “places where political ...

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