NVC Newsletter

Hirabayashi Place: A Beacon for Civil Rights

by Maria Batayola, Hirabayashi Place Legacy of Justice Committee
March 2015, Volume 65, Issue 3

[NOTE: A special presentation on the project will be given at the April Meeting of the NVC/NVCF.]

The construction of InterIm CDA’s 7-story, 96-unit affordable housing project is underway at 4th and Main, west of Nihonmachi.   The building will be named “Hirabayashi Place” in honor of Gordon Hirabayashi, an American hero.

During World War II, 120,000 plus Japanese Americans were incarcerated because of their ancestry.  Many demonstrated their patriotism and loyalty to the United States by serving in the U.S. military.  Hirabayashi took a different path.  He took a principled stand and defied the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans because it was racially discriminatory and violated his rights as a U.S. citizen.  

Forty years after he lost his Supreme Court case, Hirabayashi won vacation of his wartime convictions in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.  New evidence revealed that racial reasons, not military necessity, were behind the incarceration of Japanese Americans.  In 2012, Gordon Hirabayashi was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal Freedom for his courageous resistance against injustice.

Hirabayashi Place is envisioned to be a beacon for civil rights so that people remember and never forget.  A presentation on planned educational and art installations telling the story of the Japanese American community’s and Gordon Hirabayashi’s struggles will be made at the Nisei Vets’ April meeting.  For more information, contact Legacy of Justice Committee chair, Maria Batayola at mbjumpstart@msn.com or project manager, Leslie Morishita at lmorishita@interimicda.org.