World War II Central Illinois Stories

Yukiko Okinaga Llewellyn, Champaign


Yuki Llewellyn spent three years during World War II interned at the Manzanar Assembly Center in California. Llewellyn and her 23-year-old single mother were evacuated from Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, to Manzanar in Lone Pine, Calif. The now famous 1942 National Archives photo, taken by Clem Albers and showing Yuki sitting on a suitcase in the train station, became representative of that period. A retired assistant dean of students at the University of Illinois, Llewellyn returned to Manzanar last fall for the first time since she and her mother left it in October 1945 with $25 and a pair of government-issued bus tickets. Producer Denise La Grassa talks to Llewellyn about living in Block 2 inside the internment camp where she shared a 20 x 20 room with her mother and another family.