An exploration of real-life letters, newspaper clippings and more from survivors of Japanese Internment in the context of the Philadelphia premiere of the play Hold These Truths. The event will kick off with a sneak peak of Hold These Truths, performed by local actor Makoto Hirano, a one-man show about the real life journey of Gordon Hirabayashi, the man who famously defied forcible removal and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court... twice! This will be followed by a document display and discussion by Dr. Franklin Odo, visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and internment camp survivor Sumiko Kobayashi to put the performance and historical records in context.
Sumiko was born in Florida in West Palm Beach, part of a Japanese agricultural colony that raised winter vegetables to ship to northern cities in winter. When she was two years old, her family moved a private (Fabyan) 300-acre estate near Chicago. There Sumiko was joined by a younger brother and sister, and lived the next 14 years attending school in a small suburban town. She was a 16 year old high school junior, when the family moved near San Francisco, California into a Japanese community. Family fortunes changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Pursuant to Pres. Roosevelt’s E.O. 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, Sumiko and her family were escorted in May by U.S. soldiers armed with rifles and fixed bayonets to Tanforan Race Track in San Francisco in which a temporary detention camp was set up.
Later in 1942 Sumiko’s family was incarcerated in the WRA (War Relocation Authority) camp at Topaz, Utah. She got an office job processing bills of lading. The following year, via a new student resettlement program, Sumiko was aided by a Quaker volunteer to attend Drew Univ. in New Jersey, where she majored in economics. At war’s end she joined her family which had relocated to Philadelphia. She was a legal secretary for a number of years and eventually became a computer programmer. Over the years she was active in civil rights and community affairs with the Philadelphia JACL including the Redress Movement. She now resides at Medford Leas a Quaker continuing care retirement community in New Jersey.
Receive a 25% discount on the February 19 performance of "Hold These Truths" at 7 p.m. at Plays and Players. Enter code HSPMEMBER to receive your discount. This performance will be preceded by a discussion by HSP's Director of Archives Matthew Lyons, at the adjoining Quig's Pub at 6 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets to this show.