Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story

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Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story
Directed by John Esaki
Produced by Amy E. Kato
Written by John Esaki
Music by Dave Iwataki
Cinematography Dean Hayasaka
Edited by Gail Yasunaga
Release date
  • 2004 (2004)
Running time
33 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Stand Up For Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story (2004) is an educational narrative short film, co-produced by Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR) and Visual Communications (VC).[1]


When 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly evacuated from the West Coast of the United States during World War II, Ralph Lazo, a 16-year-old of Mexican American and Irish American descent from Downtown Los Angeles followed his Japanese American friends, neighbors and classmates in to the Manzanar Japanese American internment camp.[2] He remained in the U.S. internment camp until 1944, when he was drafted in to the army,[3] and served in the Pacific theater.[4] Not many beyond the Japanese American community knew of his story, inspiring Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR) to partner with Visual Communications to create an educational film to teach his cross-cultural story in the classroom.[5] Funded by grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program,[1][6] the half-hour drama was shot at the Manzanar National Historic Site, and in Los Angeles, and completed in 2004.


In 1941, Ralph Lazo is a 16-year-old student at Belmont High School, an ethnically mixed school in downtown Los Angeles. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, Ralph's Japanese American friend, Jimmy Matsuoka, and his family are forced to sell their belongings and evacuate to a remote concentration camp. Ralph surprises his friends at the train station as they are about to depart for Manzanar, a relocation center in central California. He joins them for the 5-hour train ride, the three-year stay, and a lifelong friendship.



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