On May 6, 2012, Governor Neil Abercrombie proclaimed January 30, 2013 as Fred Korematsu Day in Hawai’i. It recognizes the humble Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and his historic and legally significant struggle to secure civil liberties for all U.S. citizens. For 40 years, Mr. Korematsu fought to seek justice for nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans wrongfully imprisoned during WWII. Events to celebrate Fred Korematsu Day are planned for the morning and evening of January 30th to encourage students and the community to contemplate and discuss the lessons learned from Mr. Korematsu’s experiences and their relevance in Hawai’i today. Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California, and January 30, 2013 marks what would have been his 94th birthday. He is truly an American hero.
Throughout the day at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the documentary “Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: the Fred Korematsu Story” will be shown to the public free of charge. The Hawai’i Department of Education will provide buses to transport students from various schools to attend the screenings. Lt. Governor Brian Schatz will proclaim Fred Korematsu Day and Fred Korematsu’s daughter, Karen, will be on hand at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater to answer questions and to engage the audience in understanding her father’s experiences.
Fred Korematsu Day will culminate with an evening program at the Manoa Grand Ballroom – Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i. The program begins at 6:00 p.m. and will include a showing of 14-year old Punahou School student Matt Shimura’s award-winning documentary, “The Constitution and the Camps,” and a panel discussion moderated by Professor Eric Yamamoto of the William S. Richardson School of Law.
The following individuals will take part in the evening’s events: Governor Neil Abercrombie; State Senator Will Espero; Fred Korematsu’s daughter, Karen Korematsu; Fred Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice Eric Yamamoto; Ashley Kaiao Obrey from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation; Dina Shek from the Medical Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai’i; Ted Tsukiyama, recipient of the University of Hawai’i Lifetime Achievement Award 2012 and oral history coordinator for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i; and Helene Minehira, one of 136 Japanese Americans from Pu’uloa, Oahu who received reparations and apologies from the U.S. government for evicting them from their homes during WWII solely on the basis of race.
Most people in Hawai’i are not familiar with Fred Korematsu or what he accomplished. Yet, he is an inspiration to those who fight for equal rights and access to justice in Hawai’i today. Our list of community partners and sponsors continues to grow and includes: World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument; Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i; William S. Richardson School of Law; Judiciary History Center; American Immigration Council; Japanese American Citizens League; Hawai’i Council for the Humanities; Hawai’i Department of Education, Social Studies Program; Hawai’i State Bar Association (HSBA), Civics Education Committee; Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights & Education; Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Seattle University Law School); the University of Hawai’i Center for Oral History; Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team; and 442nd Veterans Club; Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project.