Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi v. the United States

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $50.00 Home use: $39.95
  • Date: Copyright 1992. Released 1992.
  • Descriptors: Japanese Americans - History. World War II - United States. Gordon Hirabayashi v. United States.
  • Production Information: Live action, Archival footage, Stills. Produced by John de Graaf. Directed by John de Graaf. Sponsored by US Bicentennial Commission. Color, b&w. Also available in 3/4 inch. Stereo, Dolby. Includes Teacher's guide. 30 min.
  • Available from: CrossCurrent Media 346 9th Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 552-9550
  • Cataloging: 940.531'709"73 Hirabayashi, Gordon K.|| Japanese Americans - Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945||Documentary films
  • Awards: American Bar Association Silver Gavel, 1993
  • Print Entry #: 5:671
  • Reviewer: Judy Belardino

    Through the use of interviews, World War II footage, and still photographs, this video effectively illuminates the fight of one person, representing an entire race, against the US government. The story of Gordon Hirabayashi is not so much about a man of Japanese ancestry fighting against the injustice of being forced into a relocation camp as it is a story of an American fighting for his Constitutional rights.

    In early 1942, unfounded rumors that Japanese Americans had aided in the December attack against Pearl Harbor and that they had been involved in acts of espionage caused anti-Japanese sentiments to flare. In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the fateful decision to intern more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry. Most of the Japanese Americans obediently followed the order - only three fought it, and Gordon Hirabayashi was one of those three.

    Hirabayashi had been brought up in his Washington hometown embracing the principles and ideals of the US Constitution. After he was first arrested for violating a curfew against resident aliens, and then again for defying the relocation order, his thoughts were, "This can't happen...this is America!" The video follows Hirabayashi's struggles all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Technically, the video is very good, with clear picture and sound. It is accompanied by a comprehensive teacher's guide that includes a synopsis of the video, sample lesson plans, and discussion questions.

    The program compares very favorably with other videos I have reviewed on the Japanese relocation in that it gives a good overview of the fears and unrealized prejudices that led to the internment as well as a lesson on the US Constitution. As the video notes, the Constitution is not "just a piece of paper...it's a personal matter." Individuals must strive to uphold it and make it personal to them if it is to have any value. Highly recommended for social studies and government classes for junior high age and up.

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