Robert Ogata

Robert Ogata talks about his family, how his father’s side came from Fukuoka in Japan and his mother’s from Hiroshima and how they immigrated to the United States, how his parents met and married, first farming strawberries in Anaheim before moving to Selma. He discusses how his mother lost her citizenship by marrying an Issei, who were ineligible for citizenship at the time due to the Alien Land Laws. He talks about his family’s samurai origins, his education at Reedley College, Fresno State and joining the Army and his experiences in the Southern United States. He describes telling his experiences with the incarceration to others for the first time, how his family hid valuables before leaving for the camp and the experience of traveling to the Gila River War Relocation Center and their experience in camp. He talks about his family’s return to Selma after the war and the horrible discrimination they faced, how he never asked his father what happened to their dog when they were incarcerated, how his family closed down their restaurant during the war and assembled for the train to Gila and were given a number that basically became their name. He discusses his family’s barracks in the canal camp, the lack of privacy and the temperature extremes in the desert, and the fort he and his friends built near the canal that we was able to find upon returning to the camp years later. He talks about the younger generations of Japanese Americans and whether they will struggle to connect with their heritage and the experiences the incarcerees went through, and also discusses his drawings he exhibited of the camp for the 9066 exhibition and other exhibitions he has participated in and the need for people that lived through incarceration to speak about their experiences in order for it to not be forgotten and for the younger generations of Japanese Americans to learn where they come from.

View transcript here.

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