CAPAC Members Mark Fred Korematsu Day

Jan 30, 2020 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) commemorated Fred Korematsu Day, which is celebrated on January 30 each year to mark Fred Korematsu’s birthday. Korematsu was an American civil rights activist of Japanese descent who objected to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. CAPAC Members released the following statements today to honor his legacy:

CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“Fred Korematsu is an inspiration for so many of us who strive to be courageous in the face of injustice. We are forever grateful and indebted to Fred for his courage to stand up against the civil and human rights violations committed through Japanese American imprisonment during World War II. Today, as the Trump administration detains children and families at our border and enforces executive orders to ban people of the Islamic faith from our country, we take strength from his conviction to do what was right, even if it meant opposing one’s own government in the highest court in the land. Today would have been Fred Korematsu’s 101st birthday, and although he is no longer with us, his impact continues to live on.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“Today, we honor the birthday of a civil rights hero for all Americans - Fred Korematsu. His legacy symbolizes the immense tenacity of the human spirit and the power of our civic duty to fight against injustices. During World War II, at the age of 23, Fred Korematsu refused to be incarcerated at U.S. internment camps for Japanese Americans and took his case to the Supreme Court. In that landmark 1944 Korematsu v. United States case, the Supreme Court ruled that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity. Forty years later, Korematsu challenged that shameful ruling – and successfully got it overturned. 76 years after Korematsu v. United States, and with the upcoming 78th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066, we are reminded that each one of us has the duty and strength to fight against bigotry and injustice anywhere and everywhere. Standing united, let us fortify our courage to fight to ensure our nation never repeats its past mistakes”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:

“Fred Korematsu’s bravery to fight Executive Order 9066, in combination with relentless advocacy from the Japanese American community, provided thousands of surviving internees and heirs reparations from our government. His story serves as a reminder of the power of a single person demanding justice. His loyalty and patriotism to the nation, and his dedication to justice and equality, will be felt for generations.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“On Fred Korematsu Day, we celebrate the life of a courageous leader who stood up against the unjust, shameful incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Fred Korematsu dedicated his life to advocating for civil rights and seeking justice for Japanese Americans who were treated so unfairly during a dark chapter in our country’s history. Especially now, we must use his strength as a guiding example of what it looks like to speak out against injustice in the face of blatant discrimination. I am honored to celebrate Fred Korematsu Day and honor his legacy as a civil rights hero.” 

CAPAC Executive Board Members

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“Today, on what would have been Fred Korematsu’s 101st birthday, we honor a civil rights icon who stood up for more than 120,000 Japanese Americans detained during World War II. He fought for decades for civil rights and to overturn his own false criminal conviction. I led a bipartisan group of senators to introduce S. 277, the Fred Korematsu Congressional Gold Medal Act. If passed, S. 277 would award Fred Korematsu with Congress’ highest civilian honor, a fitting tribute to his lifelong pursuit of justice and equality.”

Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21):

“After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan in 1941, Japanese-Americans faced widespread discrimination and unlawful incarceration due to their heritage. Fred T. Korematsu fought against this injustice, knowing that he had the right to live as a free American. At a time in United States history when we questioned the meaning of being American, Mr. Korematsu stood up to a system that labeled him as an enemy and wanted to incarcerate him because of his ancestry. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember the stand he took against that system because we can be Americans no matter where we are from. On this day we honor Mr. Korematsu and his work to prove that all people deserve respect, regardless of their background.” 

Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34):

“Fred Korematsu was a California native who taught us the importance of taking action in the face of injustice – a lesson that is as relevant today as it was in the 1940’s when he stood up against Japanese American internment. Today, on what would have been his 101st birthday, we honor his legacy as a civil rights leader by continuing to protect the freedoms of all who call the United States home. It is up to us to keep fighting to ensure his vision of an equal and just America becomes reality for everyone.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):

“Fred Korematsu's selfless courage highlighted the injustices of an unequal system in his day. A model of activism and civic leadership, he spent his life fighting the discriminatory internment of Japanese Americans. Like my predecessor, Congressman Mike Honda, far too many of our community members here in CA-17 carry the legacy of Japanese internment with them today. Fred Korematsu, Mike Honda, and many advocates in California have spent their careers working to right this wrong. Intolerance and xenophobia continue to endanger the freedoms of our nation and threaten to undermine our democracy. I will continue to fight for a future with equality and justice for all.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“Fred Korematsu was a true civil rights icon and a Bay Area legend. His activism during World War II to resist the illegal internment of Japanese Americans challenged our government and our entire nation to stand against racial prejudice. I am proud to celebrate this Oakland-born champion of civil rights who inspired many communities with his bravery and courage.”

CAPAC Associate Members

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45):

“Today, I join my CAPAC colleagues in celebrating the courage and activism of Fred Korematsu. Fred was a champion for civil rights who challenged the unjust internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II—some of whom are living reminders of the continual fight against prejudice in our communities to this day. On his birthday, we honor his legacy by standing against bigotry and discrimination in all of its forms."

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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.