Virginia votes unanimously to recognize Korematsu Day!

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Big news out of the Virginia state legislature today!

In a unanimous vote, the Virginia Senate passed House Joint Resolution 641 to recognize January 30th as Korematsu Day. The day recognizes the historic contribution of Fred T. Korematsu to American history; during World War II, Korematsu — who was an US-born Japanese American citizen — refused to abide by Executive Order 9066 which authorized the incarceration of Japanese Americans in concentration camps (read more about the power of words). Korematsu was arrested and convicted for his refusal.

After the war, Korematsu filed a Supreme Court challenge to the constitutionality of the camps through seeking an appeal to his conviction. Korematsu’s success in overturning his conviction was a significant step in winning reparations for Japanese American survivors of the camps.

Fred T. Korematsu passed away on March 30, 2005. Today, Korematsu’s daughter, Karen, heads the Korematsu Institute, which works to keep Korematsu’s legacy — and the history of Japanese American forcible imprisonment during World War II — alive. One effort of the Institute is to try and have January 30, Fred Korematsu’s birthday, recognized nationally and in all 50 states as Korematsu Day.

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5th Annual Korematsu Day is Here!

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Today is the 5th annual Korematsu Day, a state-wide holiday honouring civil rights hero Fred T. Korematsu that is celebrated in California on the anniversary of Korematsu’s birthday! Fred T. Korematsu defied the American government — his government — when it issued Executive Order 9066 which resulted in the internment of Japanese American in American concentration camps. Korematsu not only became a fugitive in his attempts to defy the racist and baseless order, but he later filed a Supreme Court case against the US government challenging the legality of the order.

After the jump, read an excerpt of my post on Fred T. Korematsu’s life and legacy, which I wrote last year.

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Korematsu Day: Fred Korematsu and the courage to defend your country by defying it

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Today would have been Fred Korematsu‘s 95th birthday.

Born on January 30, 1919 in Oakland, California to Japanese parents, Fred Korematsu pursued all the trappings of a typical American childhood. He attended public school, participated in the tennis and swim teams, and was conscripted to military service under the 1940 Selective Training and Service Act, which was passed by Congress to boost America’s military defenses in the face of the growing threats of World War II. Although he was rejected by the US Navy due to stomach ulcers, Korematsu was inspired to try and serve his country however possible and sought jobs as a welder at the local shipyard in order to help build American warships. In short, Fred Korematsu was a proud American citizen and a patriot.

Unfortunately, for most of his life, America treated him like a criminal, based solely on his race.

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