The ILWU and Asian Americans
Presentation by Harvey Schwartz, moderated by Rachel Inouye
On February 23, 1942, four days after President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans in World War II “relocation” camps, ILWU stalwart Louis Goldblatt was serving as secretary-treasurer of the California State Industrial Union Council, CIO. A few months later, he would begin his remarkable 44 year run as ILWU International secretary-treasurer, but on that February day, just weeks removed from Imperial Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor, Goldblatt testified before the Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration of the U.S. House of Representatives. There, he condemned America’s resort to concentration camps and charged that “this entire episode of hysteria and mob chant against the native-born Japanese will form a dark page of American history.”
Goldblatt’s prediction, of course, came true. In this forum, we will explore Goldblatt’s courageous 1942 stand and as well as numerous other phases of the multi-racial ILWU’s historical experience with the Japanese-American and other Asian-American communities. From its beginning in the mid-1930s under Harry Bridges, legendary founding president, the ILWU has stood against discrimination and for civil rights, civil liberties, social justice, and equal opportunity for all. By and large, it has carried this out in practice from its early days through its 1943-1945 organizing of 25,000 Japanese and Filipino agricultural workers in Hawaii and well beyond. We will trace these aspects of the ILWU’s history in our forum, which will be moderated by Rachel Inouye, Program Coordinator for the National Japanese American Historical Society. Harvey Schwartz, Curator of the ILWU Oral History Collection, will be our main presenter.
See also: http://www.njahs.org/ http://www.laborfest.net/2013/2013schedule.htm