Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Frank Emi Interview II
Narrator: Frank Emi
Interviewer: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: January 30, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-efrank-03-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

FC: And why was the Fair Play Committee formed, for what purpose was it formed? Was it formed to just bitch about camp or to do some action?

FE: Actually, when we formed it as an organization, it was trying to inject some kind of justice into the whole evacuation and internment thing. And also when such a thing as the loyalty questionnaire came up, we figured that we needed an organization to face these issues. At that time we even hadn't any thought about the draft. It wasn't even in our minds.

FC: Did you have any thought of creating test cases?

FE: Yeah, we thought of having, forming a test case with maybe ACLU as the vehicle.

FC: When you walked out of camp, was that an attempt to violate a rule and create a test case?

FE: That was probably in the back of our minds, but mainly we wanted to, we figured that we may have a legal situation arise from this draft issue because the draft was already in progress at that time. So we wanted to make sure that we established the fact that we were not free. And that's the reason we walked out and tried to walk out and then the MP stopped us and said if we kept walking he would shoot us. And a few people did get shot being too close to the fence or something, so we knew he wasn't kidding.

FC: Did anybody walk out of camp in an attempt to create a test case?

FA: Yeah, Sam Horino had walked out of camp a few weeks prior to that but he walked out of camp and walked back in and nobody stopped him. And when he got to talking about it to everybody in camp, that's when they nabbed him and sent him to Tule Lake because of the fact that he was sending out all this information that he walked out of camp and it got to the office because there were a lot of stool pigeons in camp that was informing the administration.


FC: Do you feel that you had to earn your civil rights? That the Nisei had to earn their civil rights before they could get them back?

FE: No. I don't, I thought, I always felt that we were entitled to civil rights; we don't have to earn it. We're American citizens and as such, the Constitution guarantees us that. Why, why should we have to go, why should the Nisei have to go out and earn their civil rights when everybody else don't have to?

FC: Where were the Nisei born?

FE: Nisei born right here in America, the U.S.


FC: JACL in '42 had an all-camp meeting. Two delegates from every camp went to Salt Lake City and told the WRA and the government what they wanted. And they said, "We want to be drafted so we can earn our civil rights." They didn't ask for civil rights, they asked for the privilege of being drafted so they could sacrifice for their country and earn their civil rights.

FE: Well, that's probably one of the reasons they had a "Manzanar riot." A lot of people took exception to what they proposed. I for one thought that was the most ridiculous idea that they could have proposed. Why should we have to earn our civil rights by joining the army or whatever as the JACL proposed? That's ridiculous.

FC: Were they American?

FE: I always thought I was a good American.


FA: Early March of '44, the first twelve Nisei refused to board the bus at Heart Mountain. Were you aware of that? Were you watching that? Were you there?

FE: Board the bus for Heart Mountain?

FA: For the draft physicals, I'm sorry. The first twelve Nisei refused to board the bus for their draft physical.

FE: I think we heard about it later. You know, camp is a big area there and when they refused to go I think the FBI came by and picked them up. So we wouldn't know, we weren't aware at that time who was going, who was being picked up or where. So we probably heard about it later through the newspapers.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.