Step into a significant moment in American history with this powerful photograph captured by Dorothea Lange in March 1942. The image features a poignant "I Am an American" sign displayed in a storefront in Oakland, California, just months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This photograph symbolizes the resilience and patriotism of Japanese Americans during a time of great adversity. It serves as a reminder of the profound impact of Executive Order 9066, issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, which led to the forced relocation and internment of over 110,000 Japanese Americans, including many who were native-born citizens.
This photograph invites reflection on the contrasting approaches taken by Congress. While Executive Order 9066 imposed restrictions on Japanese Americans, Congress simultaneously passed legislation in 1943 to strengthen relations with China, lifting restrictions on Chinese immigration to the United States for the first time since 1882.
It serves as a tangible reminder of the challenges faced by marginalized communities and their unwavering determination to affirm their American identity.