Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Reading the Walls Online Exhibit - Room #2 : Case 9

Sumi Returns

<p>Masa Atsu Harada Naturalization Certificate. Riverside Metropolitan Museum,
Harada Family Collection.</p>
 
<p>In 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act gave Japan a small immigration quata and Issei became eligible for citizenship. Masa Atsu Harada was granted United States citizenship on April 13, 1953. His 
daughter, Kimiko Klein recalled, "Actually, the biggest story in my family was 
that he really did want to be a citizen. That was his biggest dream that I can 
remember. And he was one of the first to become a citizen in 1953 and my Mom was 
planning to have a huge party but that was just when he had his first heart 
attack and stroke. He never was really able to enjoy the fruits of his 
citizenship. That was really disappointing for him . . . Well I think he always 
thought of himself as an American . . . he wanted to be in the armed services 
during the war. You know his whole life was here. I think that was the biggest 
thing in our family for a long time. We were planning this party and my mother 
bought all these American flags." [Allison Campbell, Interview with 
Rosalind Kido Uno, Wallace Kido, Kimiko Arlene Klein, Naomi Harada, Ken Harada 
and Paul Harada, October 29, 2005]</p>
<p>Letter from President George H. W. Bush, October 9, 1991. Riverside Metropolitan Museum, Harada Family Collection.</</p>
<p>The Civil Rights Act of 1988 awarded redress to all surviving internees. Sumi Harada recived thsi formal letter of apology from President George H. W. Bush along with a $20,000 redress check.</p>
<p>Photograph, Sumi Harada ca. 1946. Riverside Metropolitan Museum, Harada Family
Collection.</p>

<p>While still in Chicago a friend had telephoned Sumi to inquire if she wanted 
to sell the 3356 Lemon Street home. Sumi responded: "I told her, ‘I don’t want 
to sell the house.’ She said, ‘Why? You can’t ever go back to the West Coast.’ I 
said, ‘Well, that’s the last tie I have with Riverside, . . . I’m not going to 
sell it.’ I said, ‘All of our possessions are in that house.’ They were 
valueless to anyone else I guess, but they meant something to me. I said, ‘No. 
By no means.’ " [Rawitsch, Mark H., Interviews with Members of the 
Harada Family, Mark Rawitsch, 2003, p. 21]</p>

<p>"Sometimes I think it’s just a matter of the color of your skin. You know, we 
breathe the same air and drink the same water. So I’m glad that I didn’t sell 
the place. I’m glad I had someplace to come back to. It’s home. There’s no other 
place." Sumi Harada [Source: Rawitsch, Mark H., Interviews with Members of the 
Harada Family, Mark Rawitsch, 2003, p. 25]</p>
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The Western Defense Command revoked the west coast exclusion order on December 17, 1944. It became effective on January 2, 1945. In August 1945, Sumi returned to their family home. Her siblings settled elsewhere. Sumi was encouraged by the family’s former pastor, Reverend Ohmura, to open her home to displaced evacuees. By October 1945 Sumi had eight people staying with her. She placed a bed in every room with the exception of the laundry and living rooms. She screened in the second floor porch to accommodate additional boarders.

Sumi served as guardian and protector of the house, family collections, and the memory of her pioneering parents. She lived in the home until a serious illness in 1998. Upon her death in 2000 her brother Harold inherited the home. The home and its contents remained in the Harada family until 2004 when Harold’s heirs donated the site and the collections to the City of Riverside under the stewardship of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. Family and friends have many memories of coming to the Harada family home and remember the placement of the hutch and the pots and pans in her kitchen as remaining nearly unchanged.

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