Mary Tsukamoto

This advocate for justice after World War II taught others and became an activist for peace, civil rights and redress.
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Mary Tsukamoto and daughter
This portrait of Mary Tsukamoto and her daughter was taken before they departed the Jerome, Arkansas, concentration camp in October 1944. Reprinted from “Images of America: Japanese Americans of Florin” by Michelle Trujillo (Arcadia Publishing, 2021).

During World War II, Mary Tsukamoto, along with her husband, Al, and young daughter, Marielle Bliss, experienced forced removal from Florin, then a rural town south of Sacramento, due to Executive Order 9066. The order caused more than 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry who lived along the West Coast to be relocated to guarded camps. The Tsukamoto family spent 1942 to 1944 at a temporary camp in Fresno and then a concentration camp in Jerome, Arkansas.

Several years later, after the family returned to California to rebuild their lives, Tsukamoto started a teaching career in Florin-area schools that lasted a quarter century. She was a tireless advocate for redress for the incarceration of Japanese Americans.

“Wanting to transform her difficult experiences into a tool for teaching others, she became an activist for peace, civil rights, and redress after exclusion,” writes Michelle Trujillo, author of “Images of America: Japanese Americans of Florin” (Arcadia Publishing, 2021). “Her legacy was commemorated by the establishment of the Mary Tsukamoto Elementary School in Elk Grove.”

More information on the Tsukamoto family is contained in Trujillo’s book, which is available in local bookshops and at arcadiapublishing.com.