Yuki Llewellyn once warned about being cautious with the “people you elect into power”
Yuki Llewellyn became famous at age 2 after being pictured in a now-historic image sitting on luggage at Los Angeles' Union Station, about to be sent to a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
Nearly eight decades later, Llewellyn died at the age of 80. She was sick for some time before her death in March, her friend Carol Norcross told the Los Angeles Times .
The famous photo of 2-year-old Llewellyn, taken by photographer Clem Albers in March of 1942, encapsulates a dark period in American history in which around 120,000 people of Japanese descent were taken from their homes and placed in internment camps during the war.
One of those camps was Manzanar, where Llewellyn went with her mother. After the camp closed in 1945, it eventually became a National Historic Site. In addition to being displayed prominently at the former internment camp, the photograph of Llewellyn appeared on book covers, billboards and museum exhibits, the Times noted.
After the war, Llewellyn and her mother moved to Cleveland, the Times reported. She went on to earn both a bachelor's degree and a master's in fine arts, married, had a son and became the dean of students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the LA Times reports.
In 2005, she revisited Manzanar and penned a commentary about her experience, sharing that she gathered sand, an old nail from the barracks and a piece of bamboo as mementos.
"As an adult, it would have been hell on Earth," Llewellyn wrote in the commentary, published in the Pacific Citizen , per the Times . "I was lucky to have been a child — a young child at that — I didn't know what it was like not to be incarcerated."
"There was nothing for her to really hang her thoughts or emotions on," Norcross said of her friend's time revisiting the camp. "There was nothing to say 'I was here.'"
In an interview with author and photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr. for his book Behind Barbed Wire , Llewellyn stressed the importance of voting to avoid repeating history.
"People you elect into power are the ones that are able to do things like that," she said. "But I don't see the numbers showing that the young people are voting, and that saddens me. That's the only way you can control what's going to happen."
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