For the past five years, fourth-grade students in the Japanese Bicultural Bilingual Program (JBBP) at at Clarendon Alternative Elementary School presented a 12-minute play about the resistance and advocacy of Fred Korematsu who challenged the racially biased Exclusion Order aimed at Japanese Americans during World War II.
JBBP fourth-grade teacher Junko Tanaka wrote the script with help from Greg Marutani. The play was produced by Tanaka Sensei.
Students wearing head masks with the photographs of some of the characters involved in Fred Korematsu’s life reenacted his resistance to the Exclusion Order, his arrest and court cases, the decisions by the Supreme Court, and the federal district court that overturned his conviction 40 years later based on massive governmental misconduct in the original Supreme Court case.
“It is one of the most factually and legally accurate depictions of these events I’ve ever watched,” said Dale Minami, one of Fred’s attorneys. “Plus, it’s performed by these cute little students.”
The play began from the curiosity of Tanaka Sensei who was astounded to learn of this dark history of Japanese Americans and impelled her to create this exceptional education piece.
This presentation led to a prestigious Civic Learning Award of Merit in 2016. It begins about 2:22 minutes into the video after a short introduction by Principal Van Court and student representatives.