General Info > News Releases > News Releases 2011-12 > 11/15/12: Historical Nonfiction & the American Dream Come to MC


November 15, 2012

1000 Hensley Creek Road
Ukiah, CA 95482

Contact: John Koetzner (707) 468-3051


Mark Rawitsch

Thursday, December 6th, marks the third in the Friends of the Mendocino College Library fall reading series with a reading and talk by author Mark Rawitsch. He will present on his recently released book, The House on Lemon Street: Japanese Pioneers and the American Dream. The event will take place at 7 PM in Room 4210 in the new library building at the Mendocino College Ukiah campus.

In 1915, Jukichi and Ken Harada purchased a house on Lemon Street in Riverside, California. Close to their restaurant, church, and children's school, the house should have been a safe and healthy family home. Before the purchase, white neighbors objected because of the Haradas' Japanese ancestry, and the California Alien Land Law denied them real-estate ownership because they were not citizens. To bypass the law Mr. Harada bought the house in the names of his three youngest children, who were American-born citizens. Neighbors protested again, and the first Japanese American court test of the California Alien Land Law of 1913-The People of California v. Jukichi Harada-was the result.

Bringing this little-known story to light, The House on Lemon Street details the Haradas' decision to fight for the American dream. Chronicling their experiences from their immigration to the United States through their legal battle over their home, their incarceration during World War II, and their lives after the war, this book tells the story of the family's participation in the struggle for human and civil rights, social justice, property and legal rights, and fair treatment of immigrants in the United States.

Sandra Dallas of The Denver Post has called the book "[A] highly engaging history of the California Japanese." Susan Hasegawa of San Diego City College has said of the author, "Rawitsch teaches that history, the creation of history, and preserving our history occurs in our backyard, not in some far-off place."

Rawitsch is currently the Dean of Instruction at the Willits Center and the Lake County Center for Mendocino College where he has worked for the last 25 years. The House on Lemon Street is the first book in the new Nikkei in the Americas Series developed by the Asian American Studies Department at University of California, Los Angeles, and the University Press of Colorado. Because of Mark's research, the Harada House in Riverside is now a National Historic Landmark.

The reading is sponsored by the Friends of the Mendocino College Library, an affiliate group of the Mendocino College Foundation. For more information, call (707) 468-3051 or visit

Book Review Quotes:

"The House on Lemon Street; Japanese Pioneers and the American Dream is the first book in the George and Sakaye Aratani Nikkei in the Americas Series. This series endeavors to capture the best scholarship available illustrating the evolving nature of contemporary Japanese American culture and community." - Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, Series Editor, George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress, and Community, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California Los Angeles

"Rawitsch teaches that history, the creation of history, and preserving our history occurs in our backyard, not in some far-off place." - Susan Hasegawa, San Diego City College

"[A] highly engaging history of the California Japanese." - Sandra Dallas, The Denver Post

"Mark Rawitsch's The House on Lemon Street ranks with Valerie Matsumoto's Farming the Home Place, Yasuko Takezawa's Breaking the Silence, and Linda Tamura's Nikkei Soldiers Break Their Silence as among the very best books in Japanese American studies to simultaneously make a major contribution to that field of study plus local and public history.  What the sterling works by Matsumoto. Takezawa, and Tamura accomplished for Cortez, California, Seattle, Washington, and Hood River, Oregon - to render these sites touchstones of Nikkei history and memory - Rawitsch has done for Riverside, California. - Art Hansen, Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies, and past director, Center for Oral and Public History at California State University, Fullerton.

While this book is from a university press, I found it to be written in a highly-accessible and engaging style. What unfolds is a moving and intimate account of the hardships and victories that Japanese immigrants experienced on the West Coast during the last century. I already knew a little about the subject, but here the author delivers me into a vivid world where I witness in detail the journey of Jukichi Harada and his family to America at the turn of the century. The Haradas settle in Riverside, Calfornia, open a restaurant and through their hard work are among the first to purchase and own property. I was inspired to read of their effort to survive the Great Depression, then their challenge to a lawsuit seeking to prohibit their ownership of a house in a white neighborhood on Lemon Street. Theirs would become the first Japanese-American test case to the notorious California Alien Land Law of 1913 which prohibited Japanese ownership of property. Ultimately they won their case, but then the aging Haradas and their adult children faced the onset of World War II and their forced removal to the relocation camps. This book poignantly conveys what the Japanese community faced in racism and losses, and also the help they received from non-Japanese allies in mounting small victories, and the ultimate historic importance of one family property-the Harada House in Riverside-which survives to become a national landmark and testament to one family's unswerving perseverance for putting down roots in America.

I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in not only broadening his or her knowledge of the Nikkei community's struggles, but also for anyone wishing to experience a universal struggle for dignity and place.
- Steve J., 5-Star Amazon Reader Review

Created: November 15, 2012 @ 03:18 PM
Last Modified: November 19, 2012 @ 11:20 AM


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