|Born||23 Apr 1918|
|Died||2 Jan 2012|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseGordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi was born in Seattle, Washington, United States. He attended Auburn Senior High School in Auburn, Washington and then University of Washington. At the latter, he participated in the YMCA and became a religious pacifist. He was still a student at the University of Washington when the United States entered WW2. He joined the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization), announced himself to be a conscientious objector, and defied internment. He turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and was ultimately convicted for curfew violation was sentenced to 90 days in prison. With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, his case went to the Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court. In the 1943 case Hirabayashi v. United States, the US Supreme Court upheld his conviction. Due to wartime demands on fuel, he was held responsible for his own transportation to prison, which he accomplished by hitchhiked his way to the state of Arizona to serve his sentence of hard labor. He was later convicted for draft dodging, and was imprisoned at the McNeil Island Penitentiary in Pierce County, Washington alongside 84 other Japanese-Americans who also refused to serve in the US military. He further declared that the US government demand for Japanese-Americans to renounce allegiance to the emperor of Japan was racially discriminatory, as German-Americans and Italian-Americans were not asked the same for Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, Hirabayashi completed his undergraduate degree and went on to receive a master's and then a doctorate degree in sociology, all at the University of Washington. He taught in Beirut, Lebanon and Cairo, Egypt. In 1959, he moved to Alberta, Canada. Between 1970 and 1975, he was the chair of the sociology department at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1976, President Gerald Ford formally terminated Executive Order 9066 and apologized for the internment, and in the early 1980s it was discovered that reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the military intelligence noting that Japanese-Americans posed no threat to the United States were deliberately kept out of the Supreme Court during the Hirabayashi case. Hirabayashi retired from his academic career in 1983, but remained an activist for human rights. In 1987, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned his criminal conviction. In 2001, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He passed away in Edmonton in Jan 2012. In May 2012, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Barack Obama.
Last Major Revision: Nov 2019
Gordon Hirabayashi Timeline
|23 Apr 1918Â||Gordon Hirabayashi was born in Seattle, Washington, United States.|
|2 Jan 2012Â||Gordon Hirabayashi passed away in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.|
|27 Apr 2012Â||US President Barack Obama announced his intention to awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gordon Hirabayashi posthumously.|
|29 May 2012Â||Gordon Hirabayashi was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.|
|22 Feb 2014Â||The Hirabayashi family donated Gordon Hirabayashi's Presidential Medal of Freedom to the University of Washington Library Special Collections in Seattle, Washington, United States.|
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