Gordon Hirabayashi

Gordon Hirabayashi Civil Rights American History Government Social Studies Visual Arts World War II

Gordon Hirabayashi (1918-2012) was a Japanese-American who was born in Seattle, Washington.  He openly resisted the federal government's actions in requiring Japanese-Americans to leave their homes, schools and businesses and relocate to internment camps.

A senior at the University of Washington, Gordon wanted to continue his studies there.  The law prevented that since Hirabayashi lived within the exclusion zone.

Like Fred Korematsu, Hirabayashi filed litigation asserting that the federal government had violated his civil rights.  Like Korematsu, he lost.  

However, in future years, both cases were overturned when de-classified documents revealed that the federal government had withheld its own evidence finding that Japanese-Americans in the exclusion zones did not pose a threat to America's security.

A sociologist during his career,  Hirabayashi actively fought for an overturn of the case against him.  He succeeded in 1987.

He earned both a Master's Degree and a Doctorate from the University of Washington and taught at universities in Beirut, Cairo and Alberta.  He died in Alberta, where he lived, in early 2012.  He was 93 years old.

Media Credits

Image of a young Gordon Hirabayashi, online courtesy Historical Society of Pennsylania.  



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