Thomas: Monterey citizens stood with the Japanese

I want to thank Joe Livernois for bringing us the full story of Salinas lawyer, George Pollock. When I was researching the Monterey petition story in 2013, I of course, ran across the Salinas Chamber of Commerce 1943 survey and Pollack’s lone voice of welcoming his Japanese American neighbor’s home.

I do not know if Pollock’s brave stance encouraged the group of brave women behind the Monterey petition drive that happened just two years later. This petition drive was designed to make sure that the Monterey Japanese community, returning home from those concentration camps, would receive their full democratic rights that is afforded to all Americans. This drive was led by Toni Jackson, then marine biologist, Ed Ricketts live-in girlfriend.  Toni was a woman well ahead of her time, she was a progressive in a very conservative Monterey, a writer and, from time to time, an editor for John Steinbeck.

This petition drive was conceived by Toni and put together quickly.  In just a matter of a few days they a had gathered close to 500 signatures from all over the Monterey Peninsula.

One of the signers of this petition was young women named, Mary DiMaggio. Mary was just 18, and worked on the canning line at Hovden’s Cannery, just down the street from Ed’s lab. Unlike some of the more famous people who signed, she had a lot to lose, including her much needed job! Yet, there it is right underneath Edward M. Ricketts.

As far as we know, this stands as the only organized public resistance on the west coast to the well-funded hate campaign waged against returning Japanese Americans. And it happened in Monterey!

Tim Thomas
Fisheries Historian


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