By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– The legacy Ralph Lazo, a Mexican American youth who gave up his freedom to join his Japanese American friends when they were incarcerated at the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II, will be the topic of a program by a Cal State alumna on Tuesday, May 29.
“Allegiance Beyond Confinement: The Ralph Lazo Story” will be presented by Rocio Gomez, a CSUSB graduate who is the Latino Heritage Intern at the Manzanar National Historic Site. Her talk will begin at 2 p.m. in the John M. Pfau Library, room PL-4005. The program is free and open to the public; parking at CSUSB is $6.
Lazo’s presence in camp is lauded by many Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at Manzanar as a vital part of their camp experience. Years after the war, when many in the Japanese American community were reticent about sharing their incarceration experience, Lazo refused to let it become a distant memory.
As an educator, he shared the story with his students and remained close to the Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) community, participating in reunions and annual pilgrimages to Manzanar. Lazo also became a staunch supporter of the Redress Movement, which sought a formal government apology for the unconstitutionality of the incarceration of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry. His bold act of solidarity serves as a powerful and pertinent reminder of the strength of unity in times of prejudice and oppression.
Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in historyfrom CSUSB in 2016. As a student, she was involved with the CSUSB History Cluband helped coordinate the award-winning CSUSB Chican@ History Lecture Series. Gomez has also been published in CSUSB’s student-run journal, History in the Making, and her article, “Chinese Mexicans: Mexico’s Overlooked and Forgotten Mestizos,” was featured in Volume 10.
Her latest piece, “Lasting Remnants and Reflections of an American Injustice: Observations from Manzanar National Historic Site,” will be featured in Volume 11 of the same journal. She is currently working under the Latino Heritage Internship Program at Manzanar National Historic Site where she has worked on a variety of projects and closely studied Ralph Lazo.
This event is made possible by the CSUSB history department and the History Club/Phi Alpha Theta. Thanks also to Pamela Crosson (history) and James Trotter (ATI).
For more information, contact Jeremy Murray, CSUSB associate professor of history, at firstname.lastname@example.org.