Remembering the Racist Legacy of Utah's Concentration Camp

Donald Trump wasn’t the first U.S. president to excuse a shameful act of racism. Besides Andrew Jackson (Native-American genocide) and Washington and Jefferson’s slave ownership, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an order sending hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans to concentration camps throughout the West after the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

Topaz prisoners build their own camp.

It’s a shameful period in history that should resonate with Utahns. Hundreds of Japanese-American families were imprisoned at the Topaz camp in the West Desert near Delta.

Topaz child inmate Willie Ito went on to become a Disney animator.

The National Park Service announced this week grants ($2.8 million so far this year) to fund preservation, restoration, and education projects at several of the concentration camps.

These grants tell a more complete history of the home front experience during World War II, highlighting the strength and resilience of Japanese Americans facing incarceration,” says Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “The National Park Service is excited to work with various partners that use modern, innovative methods to preserve sites and stories for future generations.”

Considering the events in Charlottesville last week, programs to educate Americans about racism may be futile.

Glen Warchol
Glen Warchol
The late, great Glen Warchol passed away in 2018. His last billet was on the editorial staff here at Salt Lake magazine but his storied career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Desert News, The New Times and others. His stories haunt this website like ghosts in a machine and we're always happy to see them. RIP Papa Warchol.

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