George Yuzawa's social activism was rooted in a shameful chapter in U.S. history.

Yuzawa, who died Oct. 8, was 97.

Months after Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Yuzawa and his wife, Kimiko -- both American-born offspring of Japanese immigrants -- were sent to a Colorado internment camp along with their families. They were among the 120,000 West Coast residents of Japanese descent, the majority born in the United States, incarcerated in World War II by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Yuzawas lost their Los Angeles home and the flower business that George, named after George Washington, ran with his father.

"I was born in this country, an American citizen, educated here with a thriving business," the longtime Dumont resident said in 1981.

"I never thought about being evacuated . . . never. Then, suddenly, we were prisoners.

"We were put in these wooden structures with tar paper on the roof.

operated an import and export business before resuming his former livelihood as proprietor of a shop his father had started on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Yuzawa also became involved in causes combating racial discrimination against Asians. Revisiting the time his family spent in Amache, Yuzawa helped organize federal hearings that paved the way for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted $20,000 to every living Japanese-American interned during the war.

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