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Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi

activist
Born: 1918
Birthplace: Seattle, Wash.

An American of Japanese ancestry, Hirabayashi was a sociology student at the University of Washington in Seattle when World War II broke out. When Japanese living in Pacific states were subject to curfews, and later sent to internment camps, Hirabayashi refused to obey and challenged the law. He was sentenced to 90 days at a work camp near Tucson, Arizona, for violating the curfew and failing to report to the internment camp. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the convictions in 1943. After the war, Hirabayashi finished his studies, earning a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Washington in 1952. He taught at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, and in Cairo, Egypt throughout the 1950s, eventually accepting a teaching post at the University of Alberta, in Canada. After his retirement in 1983, Hirabayashi sought to have his convictions overturned. In 1987 a federal appeals court panel unanimously overturned both of his convictions on the grounds that they were racially discriminatory. In 1988 Congress passed legislation apologizing for the internments and awarding each survivor $20,000.


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