I have plenty I could say about the Japanese internment, about Hirabayashi’s stand, and about the worst and best of American identity that they collectively reflect. But for today I’ll let actor, playwright, and activist George Takei’s brief but moving words about Hirabayashi and the internment speak for themselves:
and will supplement them with the extended biography provided in the New York Times obituary:
The full story of the Japanese internment has yet to be included in our national narratives and conversations, although I’m heartened to see that Takei is working on a musical that will engage with this dark and divisive and yet, as Hirabayashi demonstrates, also deeply moving and inspiring part of our American history and story. As we mourn the loss of this inspiring man, we can and must also honor his courageous and vitally American actions and life.
More next week,
PS. Any thoughts on Hirabayashi, the internment, or any related histories or issues to add?
1/7 Memory Day nominee: Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance novelist, anthropologist and folklorist, and essayist whose works consistently depict the complexity and richness, the pain and promise, the horrors and hopes, of African American and American communities and lives.
1/8 Memory Day nominee: Emily Green Balch, the Nobel Prize-winning anti-war activist whose near-century of inspiring American life included professing economics and sociology at Wellesley, writing pioneering books on Slavic Americans and international women’s organizing and activism (among others), and defending human rights around the globe.