Why Asian Americans should care about Fred Korematsu Day 


 Audrey Magazine: 

Never heard of Fred Korematsu before? Well today may just be the perfect day to learn about him. After all, January 30th is proclaimed Fred Korematsu Day. Unfortunately, he often flies under the radar because his story is still one that barely receives recognition in your average American history lesson. In fact, Korematsu Day is only recognized by the states of California, Hawaii and Utah.

During World War II, President Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066 which made it legal to incarcerate Japanese Americans and anyone of Japanese descent into concentration camps, and Korematsu’s family fell victim to the legal discrimination. But Korematsu defied the president’s order believing he was an American citizen, and saw the situation for what it was — an injustice.

In an effort to avoid the unjust discrimination, Korematsu got minor surgery to alter his eyes, changed his name to Clyde Sarah and even claimed his ancestry as Hawaiian and Spanish. However, his efforts were foiled when he was arrested and convicted in federal court for violating the government orders.


According to the Supreme Court decision regarding my case, being an American citizen was not enough. They say you have to look like one, otherwise they say you can’t tell a difference between a loyal and a disloyal American,” said Korematsu.

It wasn’t until years later, in 1983, when Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco formally overturned the conviction of Korematsu that his innocence was acknowledged. It was a pivotal moment in U.S. civil rights history, especially because Korematsu would never forget these injustices. In fact, he decided to make sure America wouldn’t forget these injustices either.

Flash forward to 1998 and you’ll find President Bill Clinton honoring Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his persistence to fight against the federal courts for governmental misconduct, as well as his work to pass a bill that would grant an official apology from the U.S. government and compensation of $20,000 for each surviving, formerly incarcerated Japanese American:

Why is his story important? Because it serves as a reminder for Asian Americans that we are still very much human and we deserve our human rights like any other American.

If you feel that Fred Korematsu’s history deserves to be highlighted, 18 Million Rising is holding an online petition to have Korematsu featured as a Google Doodle. They’re 200 letters away from reaching their goal!


For more about Fred Korematsu click here, and you can send in your letter to Google here.

5th Annual Fred Korematsu Day celebration, featuring keynote speaker George Takei

Angry Asian Man: 
Stand up for what is right! If you’re in the Bay Area, you’re invited to take part in the 5th Annual Korematsu Day Celebration, a commemoration of the life and legacy of Japanese American civil rights hero Fred T. Korematsu. It’s happening Friday, January 30 at City Arts and Lectures-Nourse Theatre in San Francisco.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Mr. Korematsu’s passing in 2005, and the celebration will feature a keynote address from noted actor/activist George Takei, plus other special guests.

Here are some more details about the event:

Fred Korematsu Day Celebration

with keynote by George Takei

Friday, January 30, 2015
7:30 p.m.

City Arts & Lectures, Nourse Auditorium
275 Hayes Street, San Francisco

$10 – Students & Seniors (ID required)
$25 – General Admission
$100 – VIP Preferred Seat, includes pre-event VIP reception at 6:30 in Nourse Courtyard
Tickets available at City Box Office (415) 392-4400) or
Online at http://cityboxoffice.com

For sponsorship and advertising in program contact info@korematsuinstitute.org.

Keynote Speaker: George Takei
Mr. Sulu on Star Trek TV series, actor, author, social justice activist, social media mega-power, subject of documentary “To Be Takei,” star of Broadway-bound musical “Allegiance.”


Parking available at the Civic Center Plaza Garage (355 McAllister St between Polk St and Larkin St), Performing Arts Garage (360 Grove St at Gough St), and at 110 Franklin Street (at Oak Street).

Remember Fred Korematsu’s fight for civil liberties. You can purchase tickets online here. For further information about the event, visit the Korematsu Institute website and refer to the Facebook event.

Bay Area middle school to be renamed for Japanese American civil rights hero Fred Korematsu

Portola Middle School in El Cerrito has been renamed after Fred T. Korematsu, the Japanese American civil rights icon.Fred T. Korematsu (left), the Japanese American civil rights icon.


Portola Middle School in El Cerrito has been renamed after Fred T. Korematsu, the Japanese American who famously defied an order to be placed in internment camps during World War II.

At its Wednesday meeting, the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to rename the school. Board President Charles Ramsey, who suggested the name change, said honoring Korematsu is “a reminder that injustice should never be accepted.”

I am proud that a school in El Cerrito can be a part of the civil rights legacy Mr. Korematsu championed through his willingness to challenge injustice,” Ramsey said in a statement. “This is not simply about a name; this is about honoring people who have risked their lives battling injustice and ensuring that our children come to know about their sacrifices.”

There was some opposition to the name change, as Portola honored Gaspar de Portola, the first Spanish explorer to the Bay Area. A committee was formed to evaluate name changes and hosted four public hearings. The district said it received hundreds of written and verbal comments from community members before recommending the name change to the Board of Education.

When Japanese-American citizens were forced into internment camps without cause during World War II, Korematsu was arrested and convicted for defying the internment order. In 1983, however, his case was overturned in U.S. District Court and President Bill Clinton later awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He remained a civil rights activist thereafter.

The school bearing his name is currently housed in portable buildings as its new campus is being built on Donal Avenue, four blocks away from its original location on Navellier Street between Moeser Lane and Portola Drive. The school is scheduled to open in its new location in January 2016, according to the district.


Fred Korematsu as a Google doodle for #KorematsuDay

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The Korematsu Institute is petitioning a Google doodle next year honoring Medal of Freedom recipient Fred Korematsu.
2015 will be the fifth anniversary of #KorematsuDay. They ask you to write proposals@google.com and let them know you support a doodle of Fred Korematsu for January 30, 2015!
Check out this link:

Zinn Education Project: Korematsu v U.S. (1944)


On Dec. 17, 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Korematsu v U.S. that the denial of civil liberties based on race and national origin was legal.

Fred Korematsu (Jan. 30, 1919 – Mar. 30, 2005) , a U.S. citizen and the son of Japanese immigrants, had refused to evacuate when Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Korematsu was arrested, convicted, and sent to the Topaz Internment Camp in Utah. Korematsu unsuccessfully sued the U.S. government for violating his constitutional rights.

Learn more from:

(1) Tracked in America website:http://bit.ly/18O7xUL

(2) Unsung Heroes lesson for middle and high school: http://bit.ly/1guKnub

(3) Of Civil Rights and Wrongs: The Fred Korematsu Storyhttp://to.pbs.org/18O7Ajj

(4) More stories of protest of the internment in the film Conscience and the Constitution:http://bit.ly/18O7Dvu

(5) the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education.

Check out this link:

Zinn Education Project: Korematsu v U.S. (1944)