Stuart Hall Building Helps Students, Community Remember Painful Past
Stuart Hall Building Helps Students, Community Remember Painful Past

Seventy-five years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing tens of thousands of Japanese Americans into internment camps, Stuart Hall High School joined its neighbors and community in remembrance.

In its heyday in the former heart of early twentieth century Japantown, the Morning Star Building, now part of Stuart Hall High School, housed the Japanese Catholic Community Center. In 1942, when Roosevelt's Executive Order forced San Francisco's Japanese American community into prison camps, local priests secretly used Morning Star to store their precious belongings, hoping they'd be back one day to claim them.

Seventy-five years later, the façade of the building looks the same, and students here are aware of its history and architectural significance.

On Friday, February 10, Stuart Hall High School joined members of San Francisco's Japanese community in a program to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. Senior Ryan Murray noted that what happened in 1942 is never far from his mind. "They stored their things right here," he said, gesturing to the Morning Star Building. "Seeing our buildings makes us remember it every day. This day is about making sure it doesn't happen again. It's especially significant this year with the travel ban."

Community partners joined faculty and staff for a ceremony that included traditional dance and taiko drumming.

In the late morning, students and faculty gathered in the school's courtyard to watch traditional dances and listen to Japanese drums, then assembled inside where Mr. Hiroshi Shimizu, Chairman of the Bay Area Day of Remembrance Consortium, shared his story of being born in the Topaz Japanese internment camp. Rev. Ken Kobata, resident Minister of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, which is directly across the street from the school, graced the assembly with some powerful words of blessing.

The official Bay Area commemoration of the Day of Remembrance, Fragile Freedoms Carrying the Light for Justice, will take place on Sunday, February 19 from 2 - 4 p.m. at the AMC Kabuki 8 Cinemas in Japantown.

Read more: A student account of history informs a project to paint the Morning Star Building.

Tony Farrell, Head of Stuart Hall High School, explains the little-known history behind the historic Morning Star Building.