ILWU and Japanese Americans - Presentation
Chair, Peter Yamamoto; presenter, Harvey Schwartz; comment, Larry Yamamoto.
On Feb. 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 secretary-treasurer of the California State CIO Industrial Union Council. Soon he would begin his fabled 44 year career as ILWU secretary-treasurer. But on that February 1942 day, just weeks after Imperial Japan’s Pearl Harbor raid, Goldblatt testified before a Congressional committee set up to review the internment program. There, he condemned the government’s resort to concentration camps and charged “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 many other phases of the multi-racial ILWU’s historical experience with Japanese-Americans. During its early days in the mid-1930s under Harry Bridges, the legendary union’s founding president, the ILWU stood against discrimination and for civil rights and social justice. It maintained this policy through its mid-1940s organization of 25,000 Japanese and other Asian agricultural workers in Hawaii and still practices it. We will trace these aspects of ILWU history in our forum, which will be chaired by Peter Yamamoto of the NJAHS. Harvey Schwartz, Curator of the ILWU Oral History Collection, will be our main presenter. Larry Yamamoto, Bay Area artist and retired ILWU longshore worker, will be our commentator.
See also: http://www.njahs.org/ http://www.ilwu.org/history/oral-histories/ http://www.laborfest.net/2014/2014schedule.htm