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When the U.S. government declared that all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast would be forcibly removed and sent to incarceration camps, they gave the Japanese American community a seemingly impossible choice: if Japanese Americans could leave the western states immediately on their own, they could avoid incarceration.

Despite the daunting circumstances, approximately 5,000 Japanese Americans managed to leave the restricted zone on their own before voluntary self-evacuation was halted in March 1942.

Before They Take Us Away shows, the experiences of self-evacuees varied greatly. A few found welcoming communities in which to rebuild their lives; many others encountered significant hardships including hunger, primitive living conditions, arduous and underpaid agricultural labor, hostility, and racial violence. All endured a traumatic uprooting from their homes and communities and were forced to fend for themselves without governmental support of any kind.

The screening of the 80-minute film will be followed by a post-screening talkback with producers Evelyn Nakano Glenn and Patrick Glenn; and writer, producer, and director Antonia Grace Glenn. The conversation will be moderated by Distinguished Professor Velina Hasu Houston

This event is co-sponsored by the USC East Asian Studies Center, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the USC School of Dramatic Arts, the USC Department of History, and the USC Libraries.


"Revealing Little-Known History of Japanese Americans", AsAm News, April 22, 2022: https://bit.ly/3g1g4m0 

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  • Gisele Ragusa
  • Kathy Takayama

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