"We are all Americans in this country."
—Fred Korematsu (1919-2005)
Fred Korematsu's fight for equality became a symbol of American freedom. Born in the U.S., Korematsu protested the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, claiming it was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld charges against him in 1944 and it would take nearly 40 years for his charges to be formally overturned. Korematsu said, "It was a great victory for all Americans and all Asians in this country, that this will never happen again."
This year, on Jan. 30, California celebrated its first Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. It is the first day named after an Asian-American in the history of the United States. Five hundred teachers in California are teaching Korematsu's story.
“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,” said President Bill Clinton when he presented Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, in 1998.
This is one of more than 20 films produced by Not In Our Town's parent company, The Working Group, for UNITY Lab. This includes excerpts of the Eric Paul Fournier's film Of Civil Rights and Wrongs: The Fred Korematsu Story. For more information on Fred Korematsu or to download a curriculum, visit www.korematsuinstitute.org.