Saturday UCLA awarded 48 honorary degrees to Japanese Americans who had been forced to withdraw from school -- in order to be interned -- during WWII. One of the honorees was Masa Fujioka, a former teacher at Los Feliz Elementary School and mother of five kids, including Echo Park's Darrell Kunitomi. Masa died in the mid 1980s at the age of 64. Her husband, now 94, accepted the degree for her.
My friend Darrell, who is known as an actor as well as fly fisherman and L.A. Times employee, posted a brief but moving entry in advance of the ceremony on Flyfishermen's Forum, describing how his parents married hastily in order not to be separated in internment, were sent first to Santa Anita and then Wyoming. His mother was the daughter of a newspaper editor. She was also the mother a kid who fished Echo Park Lake with skill and passion.
I never got to meet Ms. Fujioka, but I feel a sense of relief on her behalf that the university stepped up to claim on of its own.
*Corrects Masa Fujioka's name