Tag Archive | "Gordon Hirabayashi"

A birthday salute to an Asian American hero — Gordon Hirabayashi, An American Freedom Fighter

A birthday salute to an Asian American hero — Gordon Hirabayashi, An American Freedom Fighter


Gordon Hirabayashi

By Maria Batayola and Gary Iwamoto
Northwest Asian Weekly

We always wanted to have heroes and she-roes who look like us to be inspiration not only for us but also for our children.  We have them all around us, sometimes invisible, sometimes forgotten. Here is one American hero and patriot who made a tremendous difference in all of our lives.

April 23 would have been Gordon Hirabayashi’s 97th birthday.  He was in his early 20s when he started his long courageous road to justice.

With the onset of World War II, Hirabayashi, a pacifist, defied military curfew and exclusion orders authorized under the 1942 Executive Order 9066, the Order that led to the incarceration of 120,000 plus Japanese Americans on the West coast. Hirabayashi was just a young man, a senior at the University of Washington.

Knowing that he violated the federally imposed curfew, he turned himself over to the FBI. He was convicted.

He then appealed his conviction all the way to the US Supreme Court where he lost.

Japanese Americans who were incarcerated did not talk about this extremely painful experience.  They went about rebuilding their lives. Starting in the late 60s on, the emergence of Asian American identity and ethnic studies broke the silence, started conversations, and a quest for justice for Japanese American elders.

In the mid 1980s, 43 years later, young Asian American attorneys filed coram nobis cases for Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu and Min Yasui, alleging errors in the previous trials.  For Hirabayashi, his legal team was led by Rod Kawakami, Kathryn Bannai, Camden Hall, and Arthur Barnett (one of Gordon’s original wartime lawyers).  All three cases had successful results.  More importantly, in Hirabayashi’s case, a finding was made that indeed the US government’s accusations were false.

A legal researcher found original government documents (which were thought to be destroyed) that proved the government’s military necessity argument for the massive incarceration was unjustified.  The incarceration was based solely on Japanese ancestry.

Hirabayashi’s legacy of justice is now more relevant than ever.  Extensive calls for Black Lives Matter against police racial profiling and targeted hate crimes against Arab American and Muslim communities after the 9-11 terrorist attacks tell us to be vigilant and remember the lessons of the past.

American amnesia and reduced civic education in our schools make it challenging to protect our civil liberties.

The APA community is working hard to have the Legislature allocate $250,000 to the KIP TOKUDA MEMORIAL Civil Liberties Public Education Fund to ensure that K-12 educational materials and activities about the unconstitutional incarceration and heroic military service of Japanese Americans during World War II can be developed and taught.

In Seattle, the struggles of Gordon Hirabayashi and the Japanese American community will be memorialized at InterIm CDA’s new 96-unit affordable housing development named Hirabayashi Place, on 4th and So. Main Street.  Come see the education and art installation plans on Saturday, May 30th from 1 to 3 pm at the Addison Building Gallery Space right across the street from Hirabayashi Place on Main Street. So that we remember, so that we never forget. (end)

For more historical information, see resources below:

Maria Batayola is a long-time community activist and Hirabayashi Place Legacy of Justice Steering Committee Chair.

Gary Iwomoto served as a member of the Hirabayashi Coram Nobis legal team and is an Interim Community Development Association board member.

Maria Batayola and Gary Iwomoto can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

Posted in Community News, Features, Profiles, Vol 34 No 17 | 4/18-4/24Comments (0)

1-man-show tells story of Gordon Hirabayashi

1-man-show tells story of Gordon Hirabayashi


Joel de la Fuente stars as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths.” (Photo by Lia Chang)

Joel de la Fuente stars in Jeanne Sakata’s one-man show, “Hold These Truths,” inspired by the true story of University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi as he fought the U.S. government’s forcible and unconstitutional removal and incarceration of all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast during World War II. Read the full story

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Features, Profiles, Vol 33 No 29 | 7/12-7/18Comments (1)

Hirabayashi medal comes home

Hirabayashi medal comes home

By Sue Misao


From left, Susan Carnahan, widow of Gordon Hirabayashi, along with his children Marion Oldenberg, Sharon Yuen, and Jay Hirabayashi, ceremoniously donate Hirabayashi’s Presidential Medal of Freedom to the University of Washington. Provost Ana Mari Cauce, Ph.D, right, accepted the medal for the university. (Photo by Sue Misao/NWAW)

Gordon Hirabayashi’s heroic journey began at the University of Washington, where he was Read the full story

Posted in Community News, Features, Profiles, Vol 33 No 10 | 3/1-3/7Comments (0)

Hirabayashi family will donate Medal of Freedom to UW

Hirabayashi family will donate Medal of Freedom to UW

Read the full story

Posted in Community News, Features, Profiles, Vol 33 No 9 | 2/22-2/28Comments (0)

Ground broken on Hirabayashi Place development

Ground broken on Hirabayashi Place development

By Sue Misao
Northwest Asian Weekly


Family members of Gordon Hirabayashi, along with business and community partners, broke ground at Hirabayashi Place on Jan. 25. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

About 150 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Hirabayashi Place, a new housing Read the full story

Posted in Community News, Features, Vol 33 No 6 | 2/1-2/7Comments (0)

LETTER: Hirabayashi remembered by a reporter

To the Editor:

Back in 1997, when I reported for the NW Asian Weekly, I was asked to profile Dr. Gordon Hirabayashi in the run-up to the paper’s inaugural Asian American Pioneers Awards banquet, during which Dr. Hirabayashi was to be honored for his personal stand against the Japanese American Internment. Read the full story

Posted in Letters to the Editor, Vol 31 No 3 | 1/14-1/20Comments (0)

In memory of Gordon

In memory of Gordon

By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly


Gordon Hirabayashi

Gordon Hirabayashi died on Jan. 2 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he taught sociology at the University of Alberta (UA). He was 93 and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.

In 1942, the U.S. Government ordered nationwide evacuation of Japanese Americans by Executive Order 9066. The government simply called it a relocation. But for those who had to abandon their homes, it was imprisonment.

Hirabayashi was among the internees. A student at the University of Washington (UW) at the time, he was one of only three Japanese Americans who resisted, stating that internment was a violation of his Constitutional rights. For his act of courage, he was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned.

Hirabayashi was born in Seattle in 1918. He attended Auburn High School. Read the full story

Posted in Community News, Obituaries, Vol 31 No 3 | 1/14-1/20Comments (0)


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