"In the long history of our country's constant search for justice, some names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls. Plessy, Brown, Parks ... to that distinguished list, today we add the name of Fred Korematsu."
- President Bill Clinton, in his remarks before bestowing Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998
Fred Korematsu’s legal case against the United States government for its internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was stopped cold by the Supreme Court in 1944. But his fight against intolerance, and his legacy as a champion of civil rights, would last for the rest of his life.
A fugitive after attempting to escape interment, Korematsu was arrested and spent the rest of the war in a camp in Topaz, Utah. He experience racism while trying to find a job after the war, and he was shunned by other Japanese-Americans who feared that his actions would threaten their attempts to be seen as loyal citizens. But Korematsu persevered, and his conviction was overturned in 1983 with help from a UC San Diego professor and a team of lawyers.
On Jan. 30, 2011, seven years after he died at age 86, Fred Korematsu Day was celebrated for the first time in California. The holiday is the first official day named after an Asian American in the U.S.
Join us in celebrating Fred’s life and remembering the contributions he made to the civil rights of all Americans. Visit the Korematsu Institute for events around the country honoring its namesake this week.