“We must remember the past; we cannot let history repeat itself.”
(SACRAMENTO) - ACR 10, proclaiming January 30th Fred Korematsu Day in California, by Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) passed the Assembly today.
“Today, as Americans across the country rise up to defend our Constitution, respect our history as a nation of immigrants, and fight to ensure that no one is targeted because of their national origin or faith, we honor a civil rights hero who fought for these very same principles seventy-five years ago, a man named Fred Korematsu,” said Muratsuchi, “Fred’s vindication gave momentum to the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, a federal law signed by President Ronald Reagan. The parallels are alarming between what Fred Korematsu and Japanese Americans experienced during World War II, and what we see happening to Muslims today. We cannot let history repeat itself, against anyone.”
Fred T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity.
In 1983, a pro-bono legal team that included the Asian Law Caucus re-opened Korematsu’s 40-year-old case on the basis of government misconduct. Later that year, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in a federal court in San Francisco. It was a pivotal moment in civil rights history.
Korematsu remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton. In 2010, the state of California passed the Fred Korematsu Day bill, making January 30 the first day in the U.S. named after an Asian American.