Governor Ralph Carr of Colorado Had Compassion and Courage

S. F. Mori

He was a true friend to Japanese Americans
Governor Ralph Carr (DVD Cover)(Image is author's)

He welcomed Japanese Americans into Colorado when they voluntarily evacuated.

It is interesting to note at this current time when the American concentration camp in Colorado called Amache is being designated as a national historic site that the then governor of Colorado was one of only a few people who supported the Japanese Americans during World War II.

Governor Ralph Carr was the Republican governor of Colorado during the period of World War II. He was a friend to Japanese Americans and supported them as fellow citizens of the United States. He expressed opposition to incarcerating them in camps. It took great courage to support Japanese Americans at that time when it was a very unpopular move.

There were very few people in the United States at that time who showed compassion for the people who were ethnic Japanese. Governor Carr was kind in defending the Japanese Americans. Among the few friends they found, American Quakers also were considerate of the Japanese Americans.

After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, during World War II, authority was given to the military commander in certain designated areas to remove any persons from their homes. The order was used only against people of Japanese descent. They were to be incarcerated in camps which would be built in remote and desolate regions of the United States.

Realizing that it would be an enormous task to remove approximately 120,000 people from the West Coast states, some government leaders initially sought to have what was called a “voluntary evacuation.” People were allowed to apply to move inland by a certain date to avoid the camps.

Milton Eisenhower headed the War Relocation Authority (WRA) which was established on March 18, 1942. He envisioned that the Japanese Americans could be disbursed to inland states where they could resume a normal life after being forced out of their homes on the West Coast.

The governors, attorneys general, and other state officials of the inland Western states were called to Salt Lake City in April 1942 where they were asked to accept Japanese Americans to live in their areas. The officials of the various states protested strongly with extreme opposition toward the Japanese Americans.

With the exception of one, the governors protested that they did not want the Japanese people to come to their states since the people were considered a threat. Some of the governors expressed outright hatred for the Japanese, and all spoke of their distaste for the idea. This reaction caused the WRA to pursue the building of the concentration camps to house the people of Japanese ancestry.

Eisenhower was disturbed by the attitudes and hostility of the state officials. He felt that what was being done to the Japanese Americans was wrong. He resigned from his position with the WRA because he said he could not sleep at night due to the injustice he felt was being done to this group of mostly American citizens.

The one governor who was the exception was Governor Ralph Carr of Colorado. He was a Republican governor who stated that the persons of Japanese ancestry had done nothing wrong and had every legal right to live where they pleased. He said they would be welcome in his state. He further stated that every citizen should be guaranteed the right to move freely, including those of Japanese ancestry.

Governor Carr had made a brave and courageous move to attempt to treat the Japanese people with kindness and fairness. He welcomed them and hired some of them.

Many of the citizens of his state, however, disagreed with him and were angry that he would welcome anyone who was Japanese into Colorado. The decision likely ended his political career as he was defeated in a subsequent campaign for the U.S. Senate. Governor Carr was drafted to run for governor again in 1950, and he continued to defend the constitutional rights of the Japanese Americans and all American citizens. After winning the primary, Carr died of a heart attack or complications associated with diabetes at the age of sixty-two.

A family from California who did the voluntary evacuation traveled to Colorado in their car. They were extremely apprehensive when they came to the border and were stopped by a Colorado State Highway Patrolman. Instead of being treated with disdain as had been expected, the police officer welcomed them to Colorado. This was at the direction of Governor Ralph Carr.

Governor Ralph Carr remained a friend to the Japanese Americans until his death. He stood up for these innocent people when they were being persecuted unjustly. He was a kind and compassionate man of integrity.

[Information from personal study and the book: The Japanese American Story as Told Through a Collection of Speeches and Articles,]

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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

Salt Lake City, UT

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