Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit, Triumphing over Adversity:

Japanese American Incarceration Reflections, Then and Now


On Feb. 19, 1942, with a frightened nation still reeling from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor two months earlier, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced removal of almost 120,000 Japanese Americans to incarceration camps during  World War II. Two-thirds of them were native-born American citizens who were given but a few days to settle their financial affairs and report for relocation to desolate incarceration camps away from the West Coast...


Paul Kitagaki’s visual resurrection of a tragic and intergenerational trauma of the WWII incarceration of innocent people is a stirring reminder to all citizens of the world of the inhuman injustices perpetrated in the name of war.”
— Dr. Satsuki Ina, a subject featured in the exhibit and filmmaker of the documentaries Children of the Camps (2003) and From the Silk Cocoon (2005).

In the late 1970s, as I started on my path as a photographer, I learned from my uncle, San Francisco artist Nobuo Kitagaki, that Dorothea Lange had photographed my grandparents, father and aunt in 1942 as they awaited a bus in Oakland, Calif., to begin their journey into detention. Several years later, while looking through over 900 of Lange’s photographs at the National Archives in Washington D.C., I found her original images of my family.



Kitagaki’s work has been honored with dozens of photo awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, and been nominated for Emmys. He’s been published in news outlets worldwide, including National Geographic, Time, Smithsonian Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Stern, People, Mother Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, as well as in his home paper, The Sacramento Bee...

View More →