From concentration camp to campus : a history of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council, 1942-1946 / by Allan W. Austin.
The National Japanese American Student Relocation Council was a private organization established during the Second World War with the objective of moving Japanese Americans of college age out of the concentration camps they had been exiled to and into colleges east of the Pacific states in which they had lived. The Council, originally formed under the initiative of the American Friends Service Committee at the urging of the War Relocation Authority, was intimately involved in all aspects of the student resettlement project. This private organization, which quickly gained the support of several church groups and philanthropic foundations, was eventually staffed by religious and political liberals. It performed a variety of functions. The Council worked closely with a number of government agencies, including the Wartime Civil Control Administration, the Provost Marshal General's Office, and the War Relocation Authority, to coordinate a program of student resettlement. It informed incarcerated students of the educational opportunities available outside the camps and worked to facilitate the movement of students to institutions of higher learning, largely in the Mountain States, the Midwest, and along the East Coast of the United States. The Council also worked with colleges and receiving communities, encouraging them to participate in its program and to provide warm welcomes to Japanese American students. Approximately 4,000 Japanese American students participated in the Council's program. This was a substantial portion of the college-aged cohort of the mainland Japanese American population. Although different agencies had different goals for student resettlement, some Council members and the resettled students cooperated in promoting what we now call multiculturalism. While the War Relocation Authority and even some on the Council hoped to force assimilation through geographic dispersal, the students constructed their own meanings for their resettlement experiences. The history of the Council and the students it helped, in charting the meaning of higher education as well as life away from the West Coast for Japanese American college students, thus highlights the prevailing racism of the American home front during the Second World War as well as efforts to overcome it.
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