A Tale Of Two Cities: Bronzeville, Little Tokyo & Post WWII Racial Geographies



  • Engage with a key text to explore the impact of state-sanctioned displacement and Japanese
  • Incarceration on a community within Los Angeles
  • Conduct close reading to analyze the main points of a text
  • Activate the archive by analyzing primary source documents to excavate their historical significance


The Japanese residents and proprietors of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo were forcibly evacuated in 1942. The district filled up with African Americans denied housing elsewhere. Its wartime name was Bronzeville. In 1945 when Japanese internees were allowed to return, the two communities, each with a history of race-based dislocations, made efforts to accommodate each other in a biracial “Little Bronze Tokyo.” The efforts and frictions were reflected in the columns written by Nisei Hisaye Yama-moto in the pages of the Tribune, a black newspaper. A second evacuation in 1950 of part of the district for the construction of a new police headquarters injured the returning Japanese community but devastated what was left of Bronzeville. Bronzeville ceased to exist less from disputes between African and Japanese Americans than as a result of racist spatial practices by local government. In the immediate post-war period, however, both competitive and coalitional approaches to multiracialism made possible a biracial landscape. Both communities learned from the brief experience of “Little Bronze Tokyo.”


  1. How did Japanese internment impact cities with Japanese majorities like Little Tokyo?
  2. What were the role of the US state and federal governments in displacing both Japanese and Black Americans?
  3. What does Little Tokyo/ Bronzeville reveal about racial tensions in the US post- WW2?


Lesson plan created in partnership with Diversify Our Narrative