James Tanaka told students at Simi Valley High School that he was born in the United States and so were his parents. But none of that mattered after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Tanaka told students how he and his family were rounded up into incarceration camps and forced to sleep on straw mattresses, using bathrooms with no privacy and sent to work on what amounted to slave labor on a sugar beet farm.
The Ventura County Star reports the incarceration of Japanese Americans is part of the 11th grade state standards in California.
Ben Todd is a history teacher at Rio Mesa High School.
“When it comes to teaching Asian-American civil rights, Fred Korematsu is just not a household name like Martin Luther King or as polarizing a figure as Malcolm X,” Todd said. “There haven’t been many movies made about Asian-Americans and their civil rights struggle. Sometimes, these chapters of our history are overlooked.