A Brief Introduction
Manzanar War Relocation Center is one of the ten War Relocation Authority (WRA) Relocation Centers utilized for the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, public concerns regarding the safety and defense of the West Coast intensified. These concerns, in combination with pre-existing anti-Japanese prejudice and fears of espionage, led to Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. This order granted the U.S. government the authority to forcibly remove nearly 120,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese descent and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry from their homes and communities. Manzanar was one of the original 10 centers operated by the WRA, all of which were located in remote areas under primitive and over-crowded conditions. While Manzanar formally closed on November 21, 1945, it was not until 1983 that the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians recognized that the exclusion and detentions of persons of Japanese descent “were not determined by military conditions but were the result of race prejudice, war hysteria, and failure of political leadership,” a recognition that led to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 in which the U.S. Government issued a formal apology to former incarcerees for violating their civil and constitutional rights.
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