Books About Incarceration of JAs Donated to S.F. School District

From left: Nob Fukuda, Somao Ochi, SFUSD Board President Emily Murase, SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza.

SAN FRANCISCO — At a recent meeting, the San Francisco Board of Education formally accepted donations of two books about the incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

The first book, “The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II” by Jan Jarboe Russell, tells the story two American-born teenage girls who were interned and uncovers the details of their years spent in camp; the struggles of their fathers; their families’ subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan; and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the United States, transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists.

Their stories of day-to-day life at the camp, from the ten-foot-high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call, and censored mail, have never been told.

Nob Fukuda addressed the board sharing his family’s personal story. They were among those held at the Justice Department camp in Crystal City, Texas for the duration of the war.

The second book, “Blossoms in the Desert: Topaz High School Class of 1945,” is the collective effort of members of the Topaz High School Class of 1945, which recounts the experiences of their growing up and receiving their entire high school education from September 1942 to June 1945 within the confines of the Topaz concentration camp in Utah.

Speaking on behalf of the Class of 1945, Somao Ochi expressed his appreciation that the board would provide a copy of the book to each of the middle and high school libraries within the district. “The stories in the book are a record of high school students who were held behind barbed-wire fences in Topaz, Utah,” Ochi noted.

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