Charles Kobayashi

Charles Kobayashi, former internee, shares his stories of resilience and determination to overcome post war barriers to pursuing a career in law.

Video Timeline

Note: To listen to a specific clip, move the slider on the video to the designated clip time listed below.

00:00 – Introduction

00:18 – Clip 1
Provides background on parent’s life in Japan, immigration, and making a life in America. Memories from childhood related to lifestyle, discrimination, social connections, and attitude toward education.

04:34 – Clip 2
Family forced to evacuate to Pinedale after Pearl Harbor, then moved to Tule Lake. His father was earning a living while working as a carpenter in camp. The family lived in Block 52 which was a hotbed of anti-American sentiments. As the eldest son, he was educated in the camp through both English and Japanese schools. His daily activities included sports and games that did not require equipment. “Yes Yes” or “No No” questions’ had an impact on his family. It was assumed that those who stayed at camp would eventually return to Japan. During this time he was influenced by pro-Japanese teachers.

09:37 – Clip 3
After the war ended, he saw people leaving camp, but had no other indication the war had ended. His father left to work in 1945 and found discrimination in Shingle Springs. While living in Clipper Gap he attended a one room school as a twelve year old who could barely speak English. He was encouraged by a teacher that directed him to take college prep classes and continue his studies. She helped him get enrolled and take meaningful classes at Placer High School, which he did along with twenty other Japanese Americans. After high school his family settled in Oak Park and he attended Sacramento City College. He was inspired by a professor who sponsored the Nissei club and made it possible for all students to have a social life and be educated.

15:28 – Clip 4
His mother’s citizenship status and his exposure to the ACLU challenging the constitutionality of the the internment, sparked his interest in law. He relates this to protecting rights today. People have certain rights and the constitution needs protecting and defending.

19:47 – Clip 5
Talks about need to educate people about the tragic wrong of internment.

20:46 – Clip 6
Charles describes what happened to Japanese Americans after the war, and how many Americans helped them. He is very grateful to his parents and those who helped him and his siblings.

Video production provided by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium –

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