Guest Lecture: “Life Behind Barbed Wire: Lessons for Today” September 20

By ehkim

2012 Guest Lecture Series for Asian American/Asian Diaspora Studies 122:
“Japanese American History: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives”

The following community elders will be speaking on campus as guests of the Asian American/Asian Diaspora Studies 122 course. This lecture is the first of a series of lectures that the course will be sponsoring this semester. Students, staff, and faculty are welcome to attend. For additional information, please contact Dr. Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani at

September 20, 2012 (Thursday):
“Life Behind Barbed Wire: Lessons for Today”
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM, 554 Barrows Hall

Mrs. Chizu Kitano Iiyama is a long-time Bay Area civil rights activist. Born and raised in San Francisco, she was a senior at U.C. Berkeley when war broke out between U.S. and Japan on December 7, 1941. It was while she was living in a horse stall at the Santa Anita Assembly Center that she would receive her diploma from the University. She served as Assistant Director of the Education and Recreation Department while at Santa Anita, and as a social worker at the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah. Mrs. Iiyama has been active with a number of organizations over the years as an educator and a leader, including the Early Childhood Education Program at Contra Costa College, the Richmond and El Cerrito Human Relations Committees, the National Japanese American Historical Society, the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, and the Japanese American Citizens League.

Mr. Jimi Yamaichi grew up on his family-owned farm in San Jose during the Great Depression era. With the signing of Executive Order 9066, however, he and his family were forcibly removed from their home to the Pomona Assembly Center, and then to the concentration camps at Heart Mountain in Wyoming and at Tule Lake in California. Angered that he and others were deprived of their constitutional rights and that his older brother suffered great indignities while serving as a soldier in the US military, he became a draft
resister during this time. After the war, Mr. Yamaichi would continue his struggles against civil rights violations, eventually becoming the first Asian American allowed to join a local union. He also has served on a variety of boards and committees in San Jose’s Japantown, including the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, the San Jose-Okayama Sister City Organization,
and the Yu Ai Kai Japanese American Community Senior Service Center. He also has led the effort to restore the Tule Lake Relocation Center.

Both Mrs. Iiyama and Mr. Yamaichi will be speaking about their wartime experiences, as well as their work for economic, political, and social justice on a variety of fronts — particularly within the Asian American community.