Classroom Resources

Educators who want to use UPROOTED in their classrooms have several options available to them. The three family stories have been designed as solo experiences for a user to explore individually. Each story takes approximately 40 minutes to fully complete, which should allow most educators to assign one story per class period. Depending on how much class time is available, teachers can (1) choose one story to assign the whole class, (2) divide the students between the three stories, or (3) assign all three.

The resources below are intended to supplement Chiyoko Omachi’s web story. The discussion questions can be used as a personal reflection assignment or for small group discussion. Teachers can pick and choose which supplemental readings and viewings they would like students to explore in more detail.

Discussion questions:

  • Chapter 1: Why was the Japanese American community on Terminal Island targeted for early forced removal?
  • Chapter 2: Why did Chiyoko’s parents want her to leave camp early?
  • Chapter 3: Why was it important for Chiyoko to tell her story?
  • Chapter 4: Why was it meaningful for Teresa to hear the apology from Justice Clark? How was the apology different when it came from the U.S. government?
  • Chapter 5: How is Chris keeping Chiyoko’s story alive and relevant in today's context?

Supplemental materials: The Redress Movement

During World War II, Japanese Americans protested incarceration in many ways. Some refused to sign the Loyalty questionnaire or join the draft. Others, like Fred Korematsu and Mitsuye Endo, challenged the constitutionality of the exclusion and confinement policies.

In the years after the war, early campaigns for reparations emphasized the violation of constitutional rights and lost property, and called for the repealing of anti-Japanese legislation. The 1948 Evacuation Claims Act provided some compensation for losses due to incarceration. The 1952 McCarran-Walter Act gave Issei — first generation Japanese immigrants in the U.S. — the right to become naturalized citizens, but still retained national origins quotas for new immigrants.

The civil rights and Asian American movements in the 1960s and 1970s revitalized criticism of incarceration and formalized the Redress Movement. In 1967, the Japanese American Citizens League organized a grassroots campaign to repeal Title II of the Internal Security Act of 1950, which authorized the mass detention of suspected subversives without trial. In 1976, they also organized around the rescission of Executive Order 9066.

In the 1970s, leaders of the Japanese American community also began to investigate the possibility of petitioning the government for a formal apology and monetary redress. They looked at two major routes to achieve this goal, including a class-action lawsuit and the possibility of getting legislation passed through Congress. Three organizations ended up pursuing redress in court and in Congress — the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), National Council for Japanese American Redress (NCJAR), and the National Coalition for Redress/Reparations (NCRR).

In 1980, Congress and President Jimmy Carter approved the creation of a Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). The bipartisan commission held 20 days of hearings with more than 750 witnesses from cities across the country. Many of the people who testified were sharing their wartime experiences for the first time.

In 1983, the CWRIC issued its findings in Personal Justice Denied, concluding that the incarceration of Japanese Americans had not been justified by military necessity. The commission recommended legislative remedies including an official government apology, a foundation to educate the public about the incarceration experience, and redress payments to survivors. Limiting redress eligibility to living survivors of the camps alleviated concerns that Japanese Americans obtaining redress would set a precedent for descendants of slaves and other historical victims of racism.

On August 10, 1988, Congress finally passed the Civil Liberties Act as a way to atone and apologize for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans. The act, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, allowed for the government to issue $20,000 in reparations to all living former incarcerees, along with an apology that recognized the incarceration as having been the result of “race hysteria, war prejudice, and the failure of political leadership.” It also created the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund to sponsor research and public education around the incarceration experience — including this project.

CWRIC testimonial, Chiye Tomihiro (16:30 to 22:30) - This September 1981 testimony from Chiye Tomihiro of Chicago discusses the long-term economic loss, property loss, and education loss her family experienced because of incarceration.

Discussion questions

  • How did the incarceration experience change Chiye’s family dynamics?
  • On top of economic, property, and education loss, what other losses did Chiye’s family experience?
  • Why do you think Chiye chose to use her testimony to talk about her parents? If you were able to talk with her parents, what questions would you ask them to better understand their losses?

CWRIC testimonial, Jitsuo Morikawa (7:48 to 13:40) - This 1981 testimony from Reverend Jitsuo Morikawa of Ann Arbor, Michigan reflects on the nature of the redress process, including the challenges CWRIC witnesses faced in expressing the pain and loss of incarceration in five minute time slots.

Discussion questions:

  • At the beginning of his testimony, Jitsuo says the redress hearing process is happening too late. Whose voices aren’t heard in the testimonies, and what’s lost as a result?
  • During his testimony, Jitsuo says, “To further accentuate the injustice, we, the victims, are expected to bear the moral burden to suggest the nature of redress, removing the burden from those responsible for the injustice.” What mental and emotional toll do you think the redress process had on the Japanese American community?

Civil Liberties Act of 1988 - This primary source is a copy of the United States federal law that granted reparations to Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.

Discussion questions:

  • The Civil Liberties Act limited redress payments to living survivors of the incarceration camps. Why do you think the government took this strategy?
  • One result of the Civil Liberties Act was the establishment of the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (Sec. 104). Why do you think this fund was an important part of redress?
  • Of the seven stated purposes of the Civil Liberties Act, which do you think was the most important? Why?

Apology Letter from President Bill Clinton - This is a 1993 letter from President Bill Clinton apologizing for the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Discussion questions:

  • Note President Clinton’s use of the words “interned,” “evacuated,” and “relocated” to describe what that government did to Japanese Americans. Do you think this language accurately describes what happened? Why or why not?
  • What’s significant about this letter coming from President Clinton?
  • What effects do you think the government apology had on the Japanese American community?