JANM Welcomes Public Apology and Posthumous Honorary Degrees to Former USC Students of Japanese Descent
The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) welcomes the decision of the University of Southern California (USC) to publicly apologize and grant honorary degrees posthumously to former students of Japanese descent who were enrolled in university but were forced to leave when they and their families were imprisoned during World War II.
After the war, most did not return to USC and were denied their transcripts by the university administration. Many had no choice but to give up their college dreams altogether.
“This gesture by USC to grant honorary degrees posthumously recognizes the pain and deep hardship experienced by these students. It is an important step in the fight against a grave injustice. said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM. “It is a sad legacy of wartime racism that some families may still not be aware that their deceased loved ones previously attended USC and that they are now eligible to receive this belated honor. “
For Robert T. Fujioka, vice chairman of the board of directors of JANM, USC’s actions recognize the injustice suffered by his father.
“Like most Nisei, my late father never criticized what the government or USC did to him during those dark days in 1942. When we were young he spoke of watching Jackie Robinson break the color barrier. of Major League Baseball and applaud two teams: the Saint-Louis Cardinals (he graduated from the Dental School of the University of Saint-Louis) and, despite what happened, the Trojans of the ‘USC, “Fujioka said.” It may have taken 75 years, but it looks like USC is finally fixing things for him and other Japanese American students who have had to endure so much for so long time.”
According to its website, USC awarded honorary degrees to some of Nisei’s living students in 2012. But at that time, the university did not allow the issuance of degrees posthumously until a reversal of the policy this year.
USC estimates that more than 100 students of Japanese descent were enrolled in the university when Executive Order 9066 was issued on February 19, 1942, requiring anyone of Japanese descent on the West Coast to be transferred to concentration camps. located in remote locations in the United States.
USC is working to locate former students, or their families, for a ceremony in April 2022 in Pasadena to bestow the honorary degrees. For more information, contact [email protected]