Known as a frozen food industry pioneer, Seabrook, N.J. also has a remarkable and noteworthy cultural history. In the midst of World War II, Seabrook Farms Company was facing labor shortages and invited Japanese Americans interned in government concentration camps to work for the company and resettle in South Jersey.
Mararu Edmund Nakawatase’s family was among those who relocated there and on Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m. he will recount his experiences at the Harrison Township Historical Society’s Richwood Academy Cultural Center.
“I was born in Poston, Arizona, one of the ten concentration camps set up solely for people of Japanese ancestry during World War II,” Nakawatase said. “My family moved to Seabrook, N.J. in the 1940s where they, along with hundreds of other Japanese Americans, were employed at Seabrook Farms.”
He grew up in the village, graduated from Bridgeton High School and went on to attend Rutgers University. His family’s experience as internees instilled in him a passionate concern for the civil rights of all people, and in 1963 left college to work in Atlanta with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee supporting voter registration of African Americans in the South.
He later began a long association with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker
organization that promotes a world free of violence, inequality and oppression. He currently
serves on the board of the Seabrook Educational and Cultural Center and Asian Americans
Nakawatase will discuss the origin of the internment camps, what it was like growing up in
Seabrook, and his subsequent commitment to the cause of human rights. The Society’s on-going history programs are made possible in part by funding from the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission at Rowan College of South Jersey in partnership with the New Jersey Historical Commission/Department of State.
The Richwood Academy Cultural Center is located at 836 Lambs Road, Richwood, N.J. Information and free tickets for this event are available at harrisonhistorical.com and the society’s public Facebook page. The program will also be live-streamed and archived on