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Nisei Voices
Japanese American Students of the 1930s - Then & Now
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Nisei Voices
Japanese American Students of the 1930s - Then & Now

Edited by Joyce Hirohata and Paul T. Hirohata
2004, 262 pages, Paperback.
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Book Description from the Front Cover Flap

Nisei Voices documents and celebrates the lives of the first Japanese American valedictorians of California public schools in the 1930s. The students are called Nisei (pronounced "nee-say") which means second-generation children of Japanese immigrants.

In the 1930s Paul T. Hirohata first published the valedictorians' speeches in a book called Orations and Essays. Seventy years later, Hirohata's granddaughter, Joyce Hirohata, has updated and expanded her grandfather's work. In this new edition, she documents the valedictorians' lives and adds a collection of poignant photographs to the original 1930s material.

The fifty manuscripts of the valedictorians' orations give a rare glimpse into the word and thoughts of Japanese Americans in the period between World Wars. Over 160 images bring to life the history of the Nisei student and their generation.

Through interviews with the valedictorians, as well as their families and friends, Nisei Voices creates a collage of the students' lives, forged in hope but tested by the adversity of incarceration during World War II. An epic story of triumph, Nisei Voices lends a powerful, personal perspective of Japanese Americans before, during and after World War II, and the decades that followed.

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Comments from the Back Cover

"A rare book about us - the Nisei - has come to life. Joyce Hirohata has masterfully [woven] the sacrifice, joy and hopes of the valedictorians and salutatorians expressed in the 1930s, when they (and we) were young…And then some."
-Harry K. Honda, 83

"Nisei Voices makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of the Nisei and the struggles they encountered in seeking the education which they believed would enhance their acceptance in the United States."
-Florence M. Hongo, Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc.

"For years I have been teaching Toshio Mori's Yokohama, California…. I am happy to have Nisei Voices to complement Mori's stories and give a strong voice to this largely silent but noble and dedicated generation."
-David R. Mayer, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan

"Nisei Voices provides unique and very important commentary on a critical period of U.S. and California history. Contrasting the students' experiences with the hopes and wishes expressed in their commencement speeches leaves one pondering."
-Susana Hinojosa, University of California, Berkeley Library

"Nisei Voices is a story that is particularly relevant in the current era's new threats to civil liberties."
-Charles Burness, San Francisco Chronicle

"An enjoyable enlightening read. A recommended addition to your list…"
-Les Hata and John Handa, San Francisco Japanese American Citizens League

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Background on Joyce and Paul Hirohata

Joy Hirohata, granddaughter of Paul T. Hirohata, was born and raised in San Francisco. She has a B.A. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and holds a M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco. She currently lives in Oakland, California with her husband.

Paul T. Hirohata was born in the Fukuoka prefecture in Japan and spent twenty years in the U.S. He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Whittier College and in the 1930s was the U.S. correspondent for the Japanese Times newspaper. In addition to publishing Orations and Essays, he authored several other books, including Zaibei Fukuoka Kenjinshi that documents early Japanese immigrants from the Fukuoka prefecture who came to America at the turn of the century.

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