Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County, Ark.

Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center

During World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans were removed from their homes on the west coast and relocated to camps in remote areas of the nation selected by the United States government. Two of these camps were located in Arkansas, one at Jerome and the other at Rohwer in Desha County.

The Institute staff traveled to Rohwer Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, to visit the relocation camp and speak with former town mayor of nearby McGehee, Rohwer Japanese American Relocation CenterRosalie Gould. Gould has been a longtime advocate for the preservation of the relocation camps and hosted many visitors interested in the history of the Rohwer camp, especially former internees and their families.

Tamisha Cheatham, project coordinator of the Institute, is writing a masterā€™s thesis on the history of the Japanese American Concentration Camps in Arkansas. Last year, Cheatham secured a $250,000 grant from the National Park Services to help restore the cemetery located at the camp.

Jessica Yamane, co-op student with UALR Institute on Race Ethnicity from Northeastern UniversityĆ¢ā‚¬ā„¢s School of Law Civil Rights and Restorative Justice ProjectInstitute Director, Adjoa A. Aiyetoro, Jessica Yamane, co-op intern from Northeastern University School of Law, and Donna L. Shelton, communications specialist at the Institute accompanied Cheatham to the site.

“Our trip spoke to me on a personal level about interracial solidarity. I observed the thoughtfulness of my co-workers as we learned about the history of Japanese American incarceration… The fluid ways in which the United States government has criminalized different bodies of color at different times in this nationā€™s history is frightening, yet it has also provided a foundation for coalition building between people of color based upon our lived experiences,” said Yamane.

The Rohwer site is part of the Arkansas Delta Byways tourism region and is worth a visit. See more information at Arkansas.com.

More on the Institute’s visit to the site, see the University’s blog post, At Rohwer, Leaving a Mark on the Delta Soil.