Archives in Context: Teachable Topics from the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project

Courts: Activity 4

As an American citizen, there are many actions you can take if your civil rights are being violated. All three branches of the U.S. Government provide possible points of contact and resolution—executive, legislative, and judiciary. You have discussed the judicial options in the first activity, now consider how the executive and legislative branches might help, if you found yourself in the same predicament as the Japanese on the west coast during WWII. Discuss how you might legally demonstrate your discontent, for example, actions such as contacting your legislative representatives, peaceful protest, getting issues on a ballot for voting, etc. 

A Japanese American wrote to the President of the United States during and after WWII. Project and read this holiday card and letter in the classroom from Mrs. Tsukamoto to the Roosevelts. Create a timeline of the events she mentions, discuss what occurred in her life, what living in the camps was like, and how the writer felt about her experiences. 

Then ask the students to put themselves in the shoes of a Japanese American citizen incarcerated during WWII and have them write a letter to the President or one of their representatives in Congress or the Senate to help with the situation. If you need more information about what life in the WRA camps was like, see Activity 6. 

Guiding Questions:

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