Museum of Riverside

Museum of Riverside

Reading the Walls: Riverside Stories of Incarceration & Return

In the spring of 1942, just months after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, every Japanese and Japanese American resident of Riverside, California, was uprooted from their homes and incarcerated in remote camps scattered across the western and southwestern states.

Among them were three families who were close friends and leaders in the community. The Harada family was separated and sent to camps at Tule Lake, California; Poston, Arizona; and Topaz, Utah. The Fujimotos went to Poston, Arizona. The Inabas were first sent to Manzanar, California, and later the Immigration and Naturalization Services facility in Crystal City, Texas. The memories of these families have survived to the present day, and together their experiences tell the powerful story of one of our nation's darkest moments.

The Museum of Riverside documented these personal recollections and collected artifacts from Riverside's Japanese American community, focusing specifically on the Harada, Inaba, and Fujimoto families. These stories, along with other primary documents, are now presented in this website. The objective of this project is to draw on the the real-life experiences of Riversiders to illuminate the political, social, and economic causes and consequences of Japanese incarceration, and explore complex questions of loyalty, and the challenges of protecting civil rights while preserving national security.

Ken and Jukichi Harada left Japan and arrived in California in the early years of the 20th century along with thousands of other from Asia seeking the American promise of economic opportunity and a better life for their children. They were met with institutionalized racism, evidenced in the Federal Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the 1913 California Alien Land Law forbidding non-citizens from owning property.

This 11th grade U.S. History curriculum is made possible through funding from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund with assistance from members of area and state schools. The Museum of Riverside makes this material available to everyone on these web pages.

Click the thumbnail images below to enlarge
Haru Inaba Kuromiya
Lily Fujimoto Taka
Mits Inaba
(Museum of Riverside, Harada Family Archives)
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