More than 700 attendees packed the Wheeler Auditorium at the University of California, Berkeley, for the first Fred Korematsu Day celebration on Jan. 30, 2011 — Korematu’s birthday. He would have been 92 years old.
Minami Tamaki LLP partners Dale Minami and Don Tamaki were members of the legal team that helped overturn Korematsu’s wrongful conviction for defying the military orders that ultimately led to the evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, including Korematsu and his family.Highlights of the event included a keynote by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and remarks by Korematsu’s daughter, Karen,, spoken word artist Beau Sia, California Assemblymember Warren Furutani and a video greeting from Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison. CBS 5 anchor Sydnie Kohara emceed the program.
The first Korematsu Day celebration marked a milestone in the ongoing effort to educate the public about the dangers of rolling back civil liberties in the name of national security.
In September 2010, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1775 into law, establishing January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day, the first time in United States history a day has been named after an Asian American.
The Korematsu Institute, launched last year by the Asian Law Caucus in partnership with the Korematsu family, plans to roll out curriculum in K-12 schools that week and on all future Korematsu Days.
Firm partner Dale Minami will keynote the 2010 Day of Remembrance in Little Tokyo on Saturday, February 20, at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 E. Central Ave., Los Angeles.
The annual community program commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942 and the subsequent incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II based on the government’s claim of military necessity. The theme of this year’s program is “Korematsu v. United States.”
During 1942, Fred Korematsu, a U.S. citizen, disobeyed the government’s order to evacuate and stayed in San Leandro. He was arrested and sent to camp. With the help of attorneys Ernest Besig and Wayne Collins of the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union, Korematsu challenged the government’s actions and took his case to the Supreme Court.
In 1944, the court held that the evacuation and internment of Japanese Americans was justified by national security. In the 1980s, Korematsu challenged the court’s earlier decision through a writ of coram nobis. U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel vacated Korematsu’s wartime conviction based on the government’s omission of relevant information during the 1944 case.
Minami was lead counsel for Korematsu’s coram nobis legal team. He will speak about the relevance of Korematsu’s case to current civil rights issues and the government’s use of “military necessity” and “national security” in abridging citizen’s rights. The Korematsu case is considered one of the most studied and controversial Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century.
Although Minami’s law practice specializes in personal injury law and entertainment law, he has been a leader in the advancement of civil rights for Asian Americans and other people of color. He is a co-founder of the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area.
David Monkawa, long-time member of the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR) and community activist, has created the 2010 DOR poster art. The design is a hand-drawn depiction of Korematsu’s arrest in San Leandro on May 30, 1942. Monkawa has designed previous posters for the Los Angeles’ DOR programs. This art piece marks Monkawa’s 10th DOR poster and will be used for outreach and the event’s program design.
The DOR program is sponsored by NCRR, the JACL Pacific Southwest District, and JANM. The program begins at 2 p.m.; a reception follows. Admission is free; however, donations are appreciated. Due to limited space, attendees are advised to arrive early.
For a retrospective of the past DOR programs in Los Angeles, visit NCRR’s website at www.ncrr-la.org and go to “DOR Archives.”
For more information call NCRR at (213) 284-0336, JACL at (213) 626-4471, or JANM at (213) 625-0414.