Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

Japanese Americans Given Honorary Degrees Six Decades Later

Audio

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available.

— Carl Yoshimine walks slowly down an aisle during a special ceremony at San Diego State.

He's dressed in a black cap and gown. Bright purple flowers hang over his head.

Yoshimine, 82, was a business and economics student at SDSU in 1942. But his college dreams were cut short after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That's when Yoshimine and other Japanese American students were forced into American internment camps.

“I turned to religion and faith and that seemed to settle things,” Yoshimine recalled. “From that point I was able to forgive, not to forget, but to forgive and to move on.”

Yoshimine is one of a few surviving members from that 1942 class.

San Diego State University officials are now making amends more than six decades later. They awarded honorary degrees to more than 20 Japanese Americans. Many family members received the award on behalf of their parents who passed away.

Barbara Mukai's mother Viola Takeda passed away just a month ago. Muaki says her mother internalized a lot of the emotional pain from her time in an internment camp. She also didn't share much about her broken college dreams.

“I knew she went for a little bit, I wasn't even sure where or what she studied. So it was a surprise,” Mukai said.

SDSU is the first of six Cal State University campuses to honor Japanese Americans. It's part of the California Nisei College Diploma Project to award honorary degrees to Japanese Americans who were robbed of a college education during World War II.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.