George Knox Roth


Name George Knox Roth
Born March 9 1907
Died February 17 1999
Birth Location Denver

Educator and civil rights activist. George Knox Roth (1907–99) was among the very few to publicly advocate against the policy of mass removal of West Coast Japanese Americans in the mass media in 1942. A college instructor, an administrator for the Los Angeles County Department of Rehabilitation, and a chemist for the state Department of Agriculture before the war, he became alarmed at the antagonism aimed at Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor, having come to know many Japanese Americans through his work. Forming a group called the United Citizens League with Nisei friends, he hosted a radio program sponsored by the group in February and March 1942 vouching for the good citizenship of Japanese Americans and against calls for their mass removal, noting the potential impact on farm production. He also testified to that effect before the Tolan Committee. As a result of his actions, he was called before the state legislature's Committee on Un-American Activities, chaired by Jack B. Tenney, where he was convicted of contempt for refusing to name his Japanese American funders. Effectively blacklisted, he struggled to find steady work after the war. He was honored by Japanese Americans at a 1977 testimonial dinner, and he and his wife testified before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in 1981.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Grodzins, Morton. Americans Betrayed: Politics and the Japanese Evacuation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949.

Siegel, Shizue. In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans During the Internment. San Mateo, Calif.: AACP, Inc., 2006.