From the Vice Provost and Dean - Spring 2014

Gordon Hirabayashi's resistance and legacy at UW

It was in the Suzzallo Library Reading Room in 1942 where Gordon K. Hirabayashi, a UW student who eventually earned three degrees at UW, resisted the curfew imposed on anyone of Japanese descent. Later, he refused to report for the incarceration ordered by Executive Order 9066, becoming one of the few people to legally oppose the incarceration of Japanese Americans.

It was not until 1987 that his convictions would be overturned by Judge Mary Schroeder of the Ninth Circuit Court. Judge Schroeder, Roger Daniels and others spoke at Kane Hall recently to commemorate the 2014 Day of Remembrance held by American Ethnic Studies and campus partners.

Hirabayashi’s surviving family donated his papers, hand-penned letters, photographs and his Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded posthumously by President Obama in 2012, to Libraries Special Collections where they are now open to scholarly research.

I don’t know if Gordon Hirabayashi anticipated the mark on history he would make when he turned around to go back to Suzzallo to study with his classmates. But when I walk up the Grand Staircase of Suzzallo Library, I am reminded of his quiet courage.

Read the Spring 2014 Libraries e-news

- Lizabeth (Betsy) Wilson

Spring 2014