IT’S 1942, ONE YEAR AFTER THE JAPANESE MILITARY BOMBED THE U.S. NAVAL BASE AT PEARL HARBOR IN HAWAII.
Will and Daniel have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Both boys were born and raised in the same neighborhood in Oakland, CA. Daniel’s parents and grandparents moved from Japan to the U.S. before he was born, and his father runs a grocery store in the neighborhood.
But things have changed since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people in the general population distrust their Japanese American neighbors, wondering if their loyalties lie with the U.S.or with Japan. Will hears stories about Japanese Americans being forced by the government to live in camps. The U.S. government says the camps will protect Japanese Americans from acts of discrimination by other Americans. Will’s parents talk about internment camps, but it doesn’t seem like something that could really happen in the U.S.. But then one day Daniel and his family practically vanish, with no explanation and no time to say goodbye. The grocery store closes. The government has made Daniel and his family leave their homes and go to an internment camp.
Will wants to do something. He sends letters of protest to newspapers and to his senators and congressperson. Isn’t it discrimination for the government to take people from their homes and jobs and force them into the internment camps? One thing Will knows for sure is that there is power in numbers. The more citizens who speak out about this issue, the more likely the people in power will listen to their message.
Investigate the primary sources. What information can you find to help Will convince people that Japanese American internment is unjust? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
Internment is the act of putting someone in a prison for political reasons or during a war. During World War II, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans to live in internment camps. Today, some people call these incarceration camps.