On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave the U.S. Army the authority forcibly remove and incarcerate over 110,000 Japanese Americans, two thirds of whom were United States citizens.  Families lost their jobs, their homes, and their lives and were sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered in desolate, remote regions of the country.

Map of Japanese Internment and exclusion
Map of Japanese internment and exclusion.

No Japanese Americans were ever charged, much less convicted, of espionage or sabotage against the United States. Yet they were targeted, rounded up, and imprisoned for years, simply for having the “face of the enemy.”  Unfortunately, xenophobia continues to manifest today as evidenced by a recent increase in attacks on Asian Americans. 

Historic poster of Japanese exclusion and internment.
Poster directing people of Japanese descent to internment camps.

We must look back in order to move forward.

Learn more about this history by visiting the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

This post is part of Bellingham Public School’s ongoing work on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a key strategy in The Bellingham Promise.