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CAPAC Members Commemorate Fred Korematsu Day
Washington DC—Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements commemorating the courage and legacy of Fred Korematsu:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair: “January 30th marks a very important day in our nation’s history. In memorializing Fred Korematsu, we acknowledge the courage he demonstrated in standing up against unconscionable policies and recognize him as a civil rights champion, not only for Asian Americans, but for all Americans. Fred Korematsu’s Supreme Court case stands, to this day, as a reminder of why we must always remain vigilant in protecting the sacred rights of every citizen.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “Fred Korematsu was a beacon for justice, even as his country deemed him a fugitive. Yet, this beacon shines more brightly today, than ever before. Fred was among the Americans of Japanese heritage ordered to report to World War II internment camps in 1942. He defied that order, because he believed that his liberty and the rights of his family and community had been violated by the forced internment order, given without evidence, specific charges, or a trial. His entire life, Fred lived by an unshakable belief of doing that which is right. We must build on Fred's courage and continue the fight to ensure that all Americans, all humans, have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness-- only in doing so, will we achieve our more perfect union.”
Senator Mazie Hirono (HI): “Last February, a class of Hawaii students sent letters to Governor Abercrombie calling for state recognition of Fred Korematsu Day. Thanks to their efforts, today is Hawaii’s first official celebration of Korematsu’s courage in the face of discrimination. Korematsu fought for his basic civil rights at a time when his Japanese American ethnicity made the U.S. government question his loyalty. I’m proud to have known Fred and his family, and am encouraged to see his pursuit for justice continues to inspire new generations of leaders. I hope people in Hawaii will attend one of the various events commemorating Korematsu’s legacy.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02): “Today, on Hawaii’s inaugural Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu Day, we are proud to honor and celebrate a man whose life and legacy are an inspiration to us all. Mr. Korematsu showed great determination in the face of immense adversity during World War II, like the Japanese-Americans of his generation in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and those interned across the country, including at the Honouliuli internment camp on Oahu. His fight for justice should serve as a lesson for future generations, who can learn from his struggle to prevent the injustices of the past.”
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01): “I continue to find inspiration in the example of Fred Korematsu. While it is easy today to think of him as a symbol, we cannot forget that he was also a man who stood strong against injustice; he showed uncommon personal strength and was an outstanding American. Mr. Korematsu continues to illustrate both the dangers we face as a nation when we succumb to our fears, and the power of a single committed individual to remind us of our duty to all Americans. His story demonstrates that we must be willing to be judged by how we treat the least powerful among us, those without a voice, and whose interests differ from those of the majority.”
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06): “Fred Korematsu was a true American patriot whose story embodies the finest values and aspirations of our country. During one of the darkest periods of our history, Fred Korematsu’s uncommon courage and unwavering conviction to fighting for justice taught us the value of never giving up. Today, as California observes Fred Korematsu Day, we honor his legacy and go forward with a renewed commitment to justice, equality, and the courage to speak the truth.”
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41): “As a Japanese-American whose immediate family was affected by the Japanese imprisonment during WWII, it is with great pride that I commemorate the third annual Fred Korematsu Day. Fred’s commitment towards justice and freedom during one of America’s dark periods is a prime example of courage, which resonates deeply with the Japanese-American community. Let us never forget Fred’s bold actions and continue to fight for equality and civil rights for all.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40): “Today Californians come together to remember Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American who stood up for civil rights during the U.S. imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Fred Korematsu’s inspirational story reminds us of the ongoing fight for civil rights in our country and the need to stand up for the rights of everyone in our communities."
Fred Korematsu Day is the first day in U.S. history named after an Asian American. During World War II, Fred Korematsu refused to relocate to an internment camp under President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which mandated the mass roundup and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast. He was eventually arrested and interned in May of 1942. Korematsu worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge his case, ultimately taking it to the Supreme Court. Although unsuccessful at the time, he cleared his name in 1983 – more than four decades after first being detained.
This year is the third year celebrating Fred Korematsu Day and three states are acknowledging January 30th statewide: California, Hawaii, and Utah. In 2010, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB1775, creating “Fred Korematsu Day” as a permanent day of special significance, when schools around the state are encouraged to teach Mr. Korematsu’s story and protect the civil liberties of all people. Last year, the governor of Hawaii declared January 30, 2013 as Fred Korematsu Day in Hawaii. Earlier this month, Utah Governor Gary Herbert declared January 30, 2013 as Fred Korematsu Day in Utah, the state where Mr. Korematsu was interned during World War II.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.