Gallup bucked the system during World War II

The Autry Museum in Los Angeles posted a few videos in recent days for its upcoming “Route 66: The Road and the Romance” exhibit.

I encourage you to watch this one that features an interview with Hiroshi Miyamura, who says Gallup was the only town in New Mexico to not detain its Japanese-American residents during World War II.

The Only Town in New Mexico – Hiroshi Miyamura from Autry Media on Vimeo.

Miyamura, who was born in Gallup and reportedly still lives there, served in the Army during World War II and earned the Medal of Honor during the Korean War. He’s now 88 years old. He has a local high school and overpass named after him.

The internment of Japanese-Americans started in 1942, shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, then a U.S. territory and not yet a state. However, I didn’t know the internments were somewhat sporadic. This excerpt from a Wikipedia article proves helpful:

The internment of Japanese Americans was applied unequally as a geographic matter: all who lived on the West Coast were interned, while in Hawaii, where 150,000-plus Japanese Americans comprised over one-third of the population, only 1,200 to 1,800 were interned. Sixty-two percent of the internees were American citizens.

The rest of the article makes it clear that states or cities — particularly those outside the West Coast — had some leeway whether to round up Japanese-Americans. According to online sources, Gallup refused to detain about 800 of them living in their city.

A few folks dispute whether Gallup actually resisted. But if Miyamura says it happened, I’m inclined to believe him.

(Image of downtown Gallup by Thomas Hawk via Flickr)

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