Open main menu

Grayce Uyehara, née Kaneda, (July 4, 1919 – June 22, 2014) was a Japanese-American social worker and activist who led the campaign for a formal government apology for Japanese-American internment during World War II.

Grayce Uyehara
Grayce Ritsu Kaneda

(1919-07-04)July 4, 1919
DiedJune 22, 2014(2014-06-22) (aged 94)
EducationUniversity of the Pacific, St. Cloud State Teachers College,[1] University of Pennsylvania[2]
OccupationSocial Worker
EmployerJapanese American Citizens League[1]
Known forCivil Rights
Spouse(s)Hiroshi Uyehara[1]


Born Grayce Ritsu Kaneda in Stockton, California, Uyehara was part of the nisei generation, and the second of seven children. She was a student at the University of the Pacific, majoring in music, when she and her family were imprisoned in the Rohwer, Arkansas internment camp.[2][1][3] After securing her release through a program allowing some internees to attend college, Uyehara moved to Minnesota and studied at St. Cloud State Teachers College, now St. Cloud State University.[2][4] She then moved to Philadelphia and married a fellow former internee, Hiroshi Uyehara. The Uyeharas organized the Philadelphia chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), and Grayce became one of its first women leaders nationwide.[2][1][3]

While an activist, Uyehara worked as a social worker. After her retirement, she volunteered as national director of the Legislative Education Committee, the JACL's lobbying arm. Their efforts led to President Ronald Reagan's signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which issued a formal apology for internment and provided reparations for former internees. She then chaired the JACL Legacy Fund campaign, which raised over $5 million to support other JACL programs. In 2014, she was honored by Asian Americans United with its Standing Up For Justice Award. After passing away June 22, 2014, at Virtua Memorial hospital in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Uyehara was remembered by other Japanese Americans for her focus and effectiveness as an activist.[2][1][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "JACL Mourns Passing of Redress Leader Grayce Uyehara". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Grayce Uyehara, fought for interned Japanese-Americans". Archived from the original on June 24, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Hatamiya, Leslie (October 1, 1994). Righting a Wrong. Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804766067.
  4. ^ St. Cloud State University Archives and Special Collections. A photo of Grayce Kaneda at St. Cloud State can be found here.

External linksEdit