In his book, Through a Diamond: 100 Years of Japanese-American Baseball, Kerry Yo Nakagawa, Director, Nisei Baseball Research Project (NBRP), notes that Japanese Americans have been playing baseball for 100 years and even during the internment period of 1942 to 1945, they continued to play baseball behind barbed wire. For many students, there is an emotional connection to baseball and the many icons associated with the American pastime. Since the acts of terrorism on September 11, 2001, "civil liberties during times of crisis" has become a topic of many news stories and debate. Parallels have been drawn between what Arab Americans are facing today and what Japanese Americans faced following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The purpose of this teacher's guide is not only to introduce Japanese-American internment through the prism of baseball but also to encourage students to consider the importance of their own civil liberties.
In addition to encouraging students to consider concepts such as civil liberties, the activities in this guide also encourage students to examine concepts such as team sports, acculturation, ethnicity, discrimination, cross-cultural conflict, conflict management, civil liberties, and civil rights. The activities also engage students through their multiple intelligences and in the examination of primary source documents from the internment period. The documents all share the common bond of baseball.
This guide (with accompanying documentary) can be used as a supplement to SPICE's comprehensive curriculum unit, Civil Rights and Japanese-American Internment. It is also suggested that activities from this activity guide be utilized as a supplement to U.S. history textbook coverage of Japanese-American internment during World War II.
In this guide, students will
- learn about Japanese-American internment through the prism of baseball;
- learn about the challenges that faced Japanese Americans in the detention camps;
- appreciate the moral dilemmas faced by Japanese Americans in the detention camps;
- ponder questions involving civil liberties in the United States during World War II;
- consider the nature of civil liberties during times of crisis;
- work effectively in small groups;
- analyze primary source documents;
- view films and documentaries critically;
- compare and contrast different points of view; and
- practice skills of the historian, curator, artist, and poet.