The San Francisco-based Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education has announced that the first Fred Korematsu Day celebration will be held on Sunday, Jan. 30, at Wheeler Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus.
Last September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1775, establishing Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Born on Jan. 30, 1919, Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. When his Supreme Court case was reopened in the 1980s, he became an outspoken advocate for civil rights. He passed away in 2005.
The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, who has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice in the past 40 years. In 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Jackson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Jackson is known for bringing people together on common ground across lines of race, culture, class, gender and belief.
In 1999, Korematsu was honored at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s annual awards dinner. Korematsu also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu and co-founder of the Korematsu Institute, will be among the speakers. She shares her father’s passion for social justice and continues to advance his legacy by helping the institute with its development and outreach efforts and speaking at events around the country.
The program will include a performance by spoken-word artist Beau Sia, an Oklahoma native who was one of the original cast members in Russell Simmons’ “Def Poetry Jam,” which won a Tony Award in 2003. He has also appeared in “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam,” and the film “Slam.” He has published a book of poetry, “A Night Without Armor II: The Revenge,” and released two CDs, “Attack! Attack! Go!” and “Dope and Wack.”
There will be a video message from Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress. He has represented the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota in the House of Representatives since 2007. Reflecting his roots as a community activist and his message of inclusivity through democratic participation, his priorities in Congress are promoting peace, prosperity for working families, environmental sustainability, and civil and human rights.
The co-sponsors of the Fred Korematsu Day legislation will participate. Assemblymember Warren Furutani of southern Los Angeles County was re-elected to the 55th Assembly District in 2010 for his second two-year term. A former member of the Los Angeles Board of Education and Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees, he has over 40 years of experience in education and public service. He is the chair of the Asian Pacific Islander American Legislative Caucus and the author of AB 37, which granted honorary college degrees to Japanese Americans whose education was disrupted due to the internment.
Assemblymember Marty Block was elected in November 2008 to represent the 78th Assembly District, one of the most diverse districts in San Diego County. He is a former dean and retired professor at San Diego State University. His passion on education issues, both at the K-12 levels and collegiate levels, shows a strong regard for those who have little or no voice in the political process.
The emcee will be Sydnie Kohara, co-anchor of CBS 5’s “Eyewitness News Early Edition.”
A VIP reception will be held at 1 p.m., followed by the main program at 2 p.m. and a general reception at 3 p.m. The Emmy Award-winning film “Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story” will be screened at 4 p.m.
Cal Performances does not offer parking validation for this event, but street parking is free in Berkeley on Sundays. Parking lots are also available.
Tickets are $100 for program and VIP reception. For program only, admission is $25 general, $15 for teachers, non-profit employees and senior citizens (65-plus), and $5 for students. For ticket information, call Cal Performances at (510) 642-9988 or visit tickets.berkeley.edu. The ticket office is located at the northeast corner of Zellerbach Hall on campus.
The institute sponsors a variety of activities, including the Fred Korematsu Day Forum for Educators held Jan. 6 at the Japanese American National Museum’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum. For information on other commemorations, visit korematsuinstitute.org.