Korematsu’s 100th Birthday Observed Across Country

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A variety of programs will mark the 100th birthday of civil rights icon Fred Korematsu on Jan. 30.

Korematsu, who challenged the constitutionality of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, died in 2005 at the age of 86. The Supreme Court ruled against him at the time, but in the 1980s his case was reopened on the basis of new evidence and a federal judge ruled that the government had covered up proof that the incarceration was based on race, not military necessity.

Korematsu became an outspoken civil rights advocate, and his story was told in books (including “Fred Korematsu Speaks Up”), TV programs and films (including “Of Civil Rights and Wrongs”). He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1998..

His birthday has been designated Fred Korematsu Day in California, Hawaii, Virginia and Florida. Schools have been named in his honor, and the Korematsu Institute in San Francisco, established by his daughter, Karen, provides schools with civil rights curricula.

Commemorative activities this year include:

• Free professional development workshops for teachers through Feb. 2 in conjunction with the exhibition “Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties” at the Presidio of San Francisco.

• Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution-Hawai’i on Jan. 30 at Aliʻiōlani Hale in Honolulu. A discussion on U.S. policy surrounding refugees and asylum seekers.

• The second annual New York City Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on Jan. 30 at New York county Lawyers Association. A re-enactment of Korematsu v. United States presented by the New York Day of Remembrance Committee.

Founded in 2009, the Fred T. Korematsu Institute educates to advance racial equity, social justice, and human rights for all. For more information, visit www.korematsuinstitute.org.

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