Peter Irons

White male. Born 1940 in Salem, Massachusetts. Family moved frequently during his childhood due to father's employment. Strongly influenced by parents' values regarding racial tolerance and inclusion, and principles learned through Unitarian Church. While attending Antioch College in Ohio, became involved in political and social activism for civil rights. Joined the youth branch of NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and other groups. Active in sit-ins and other demonstrations addressing racial inequality, peace and related issues, eventually becoming a full-time organizer. Worked for the United Autoworkers Union. Resisted the draft, and was indicted by a federal grand jury in 1964. Convicted of failing to report for military service and sentenced to three years in prison. Graduated from Antioch College, 1966. Appealed his conviction to the United States Court of Appeals and lost. Served his sentence in federal institutions in Milan, Michigan, Terre Haute, Indiana, and Danbury, Connecticut. Following release from prison in 1969, attended graduate school at Boston University, obtaining PhD in political science in 1973. Accepted to Harvard Law School. While a law student, researched and filed a writ of error coram nobis with the federal court in which he had been convicted, and as a result had his conviction vacated. (Writ of error coram nobis establishes that the original case was premised on errors of fact withheld from the judge and the defense by the prosecution.) Graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978. Taught undergraduate and law school courses at several schools before joining faculty of the University of California at San Diego. While conducting research at the National Archives and Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. in preparation for writing a book, discovered evidence of governmental misconduct during World War II, which refuted the U.S. government's rationale of "military necessity" for the mass incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry in 1942. Using this evidence, assisted the congressional Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Contacted original defendants, initiated formation of legal teams, and was instrumental in filing petitions using the writ of error coram nobis, resulting in the reconsideration of the wartime "internment cases": Hirabayashi, Korematsu, and Yasui. Dr. Irons is a professor of political science and director of the Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project at the University of California, San Diego.

Interviews

Peter Irons Interview — ddr-densho-1012-16
November 11, 1983. San Francisco, California.
01:06:01 — 15 segments.
Peter Irons Interview II — ddr-densho-1000-127
October 27, 2000. Seattle, Washington.
02:41:34 — 25 segments.
Peter Irons Interview I — ddr-densho-1000-126
October 25, 2000. Seattle, Washington.
02:21:49 — 22 segments.
Peter Irons
API