The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Nisei Diploma Project

City College student Kiyo Sato, 86, is a participant in the Nisei Diploma project. Photo by || Randy Briggs || [email protected] ||

Imagine being in class, listening to your English teacher talking about the next essay that’s due when all of the sudden, you are forced to leave your class, go home, pack as many belongings as you can and forced into a bus being shipped off to a place you know nothing about.

This is what happened on the tragic day in May of 1942 just before graduation, what was known then as Sacramento Junior College to Japanese American students forced out of school by the Executive Order 9066. The order demanded the students to suspend their studies and be sent to internment camps.

Supervisor of Admissions and Records Kim Goff and RISE counselor Keith Muraki are teaming up with the California Nisei College Diploma Project to coordinate a graduation ceremony that will be held for the people and family members who went through Executive Order 9066 and whose education was interrupted.

The graduation is scheduled for May 19, and will present those who suffered through the tragedy with honorary degrees during City Colleges commencement ceremonies.

Kiyo Sato, former City College student who is now 86 years old, frequently speaks about what happened to her in 1942. She was one of the women forced out of her class and was told to grab everything she could in as little time as possible.

“We had to leave, the deadline came on so quickly to evacuate,” says Sato. “I think back on that time and I think did we really do something like that? I was so humiliated and embarrassed and everything else, I did not want to stop my car and read the fine print.”

Sato has written a book on her experiences called, “Dandelion Through the Crack: The Sato Family Quest for the American Dream.” She travels from various colleges within the Sacramento area speaking about Executive Order 9066 and how important it is not to have these events happen again.

“It’s so important that we be reminded of these historical events so that we don’t repeat our own mistakes,” says Sato.

Sato says she is grateful for the efforts of City College to award honorary degrees, because this was such an historical event.

“I have never been much for graduations, but this one is historical. What would I do with an honorary degree at 86?” she says laughing while thinking about her age.
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Goff has a certain goal with this event.

“Our goal is to identify as many of the students who were interned in 1942 who attended City College.” says Goff. “We did that by cross referencing the National Archives List of interned Japanese Americans. We’ve actually identified well over 200 students.”

So far nine of those will attend. It has been a long search for students who went through the Executive Order 9066 was has been worth the wait and is imperative for students and family members who want to remember that day and have something they can cherish with them for life.

Muraki says the Nisei Diploma project holds a special place in his heart.

“I didn’t know when we first started this, when Kim populated the list, I said, is there a Muraki in there?” says Muraki. “And she said yes, there is a Tom Muraki in there and I said, ‘oh my god, that’s my dad!’”

Muraki says he knew his father went to Sacramento Junior College, and had an idea that his father was interned into a camp, because of Executive Order 9066.

“When I first started talking to some of the Niseis … I think for me, safe to say the most significant project I’ve worked on in my entire career,” says Muraki.

City College is still looking for anyone who may have gone through the event in 1942 and would like to invite them to the graduation on May 19.

“It is really a good feeling to hear the [Niseis] say ‘wow, this is a great event and I really feel like we are doing a good thing here.’” says Muraki regarding how the Niseis he has been in contact with feel about the upcoming graduation ceremony.

For more information please contact Muraki at [email protected] or Goff at [email protected].

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