- Category : 1924-births
- Type : GE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Incarnation 2
American civil rights activist, who was the only known non-spouse, non-Japanese American who voluntarily relocated to a World War II Japanese American internment camp. His experience was the subject of the 2004 narrative short film Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story.
Lazo was of Mexican American and Irish American descent. His mother died when he and his sister were young, leaving them in the care of their father, who found work painting houses and murals.
As a Belmont High School student at age 17, Lazo learned that his Japanese American friends and neighbors were being forcibly removed as part of the Japanese American Internment and incarcerated at Manzanar. Lazo was so outraged that he joined friends on a train that took hundreds to Manzanar in May 1942. Manzanar officials never asked him about his ancestry.
Lazo attended school at the camp, and after his graduation, he remained at the camp until August of 1944, when he was inducted into the US Army. He served as a Staff Sergeant in the South Pacific until 1946, helping liberate the Philippines. Lazo was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in combat.
After the war, Lazo spent his career teaching, mentoring disabled students and encouraging Hispanics to attend college and vote. Lazo also helped raise funds for a class-action lawsuit to win reparations for Japanese-Americans interned during the war, which resulted in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.
Lazo died in Los Angeles on 1 January 1992 from liver cancer at age 67.