Ralph Kumano

Ralph Kumano talks about his family origins in Japan and being born in the Gila River Relocation Center, working in the farm industry growing up, before working for the National Park Service and as a teacher. He discusses teaching in Southern California for 18 years before moving back to Fresno and teaching at Kings Canyon Middle School, Tenaya Middle School and McLane High School before retiring. He dives further into his family history, discussing how his grandfather immigrated from Hiroshima, Japan to Hawaii before moving on to Sanger, California and marrying a “picture bride”, how his father and mother met and married and about his brothers and sisters. He talks about the Pearl Harbor attack and Executive Order 9066 and the evacuation, how his family received permission to drive their car to Arizona to the Gila camp, and how life in the camp was. He discusses his father refusing to work for the extremely low wages that were offered in the camps and focusing on hobbies instead. The loyalty questionnaire is discussed, along with No-No Boys and them being sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center with some renouncing their citizenships under strained circumstances and being forced to fight to get them restored. He states how his father was the last Japanese American to leave the Gila River camp and talks about how his grandfather died in 1943 in the camp. He talks about being fortunate to have someone watch their property and being able to come back to it and life after the war, his education and facing discrimination in the 1950’s. He talks about his involvement in the Japanese American community, the Civil Liberties Act and redress and reparations.

View transcript here.

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