An historian has uncovered documents showing noted author John Steinbeck was among those who signed a petition calling for a “democratic way of life” for Japanese Americans incarcerated in prison camps in World War II, reports the Monterey Herald
Steinbeck’s name was among 440 names listed in a full page ad under the headline “a democratic way of life for all.”
Tim Thomas discovered the petition in the archives of the Japanese American Citizen’s League hall in Monterey, California.
Other names on the petition includes marine biologist Ed Ricketts and nationally renowned Big Sur poet Robinson Jeffers and his wife, Una.
One person who signed the petition said she wanted to support her Japanese friends and her husband who covered the evacuation as a journalist and was appalled at what he saw.
“He had been assigned to report on the gathering up of the Japanese before they were sent away (in 1942),” Nancy Costello, 95 recalled right before her death. “It was the worst assignment of his life. These were good people, loyal citizens. Jimmy was mortified by it. He knew it was wrong.”
You can read why Thomas began to cry when he discovered the petition and see an interview with Larry Oda, past president of JACL about the significance of the discovery in the Monterey Herald.