Friday, September 21, 2007

Speaking Out

I'm in Seattle doing research in the University of Washington archives. They have a lot of materials about the Japanese American internment, and two of the files I looked through were of Seattle area attorneys, Austin Griffith and Arthur Barnett, two men who represented various Japanese Americans and wrote letters to various government officials in an effort to find exemptions for these people from internment, and in the case of Arthur Barnett, a member of the American Friends Service Committee, he was very active in working with the Japanese American community in helping them through the evacuation, relocation, internment and then eventual relocation back to Seattle. Barnett, was also the attorney who represented Gordon Hirabayashi, one of four people who brought lawsuits against the US Government alleging the unconstitutionality of the camps (he didn't win during his time but he was vindicated years later, along with Min Yasui and Fred Korematsu).

Which just goes to show, there have always been people who have protested injustice--there have always been white allies. And I think that's important to remember, we've never just stuck to our own.

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