SEATTLE -- A new plaque commemorating a Seattle School District apology to 27 clerks forced to resign during WWII is being given to the School Board Wednesday.
Sometime during the move to its new headquarters in 2001, the School District administration lost the original plaque installed in 1984.
The new plaque explains how after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the School Board in 1942 forced the clerks, all Japanese American women, to resign or be fired. Some parents in the district had petitioned the Board, saying the women couldn't be trusted. To prove their loyalty to America, the women reluctantly resigned.
There was no reason for us to resign, recalls May Namba, who was just 18 years old at the time. We were Japanese Americans, that was the only thing wrong.
In 1984, the School Board voted 4 to 2 with one abstension to grant the women redress and apologize. A plaque marking the historic event was placed at the headquarters, located on lower Queen Anne.
Replacing the plaque in the new headquarters is important, says Mako Nakagawa, a former Seattle School principal and member of the Japanese American Citizens League.
It safeguards our constitution. It safeguards our human rights and civil liberties. You cannot go back and change history. What you can do, is learn from it.
The plaque will be presented at 4:15 p.m. at the Seattle School District Board Meeting on Wednesday July 3, 2013. May Namba is scheduled to speak.