When is Fred Korematsu Day?
Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution is always celebrated on or around 30 January. It is not a public holiday. It commemorates the birthday of Fred Korematsu, a national civil rights hero, in 1930.
California, Hawaii, Utah, Illinois, Georgia and Virginia officially commemorate Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Michigan and Pennsylvania still have related legislation pending.
Background to Fred Korematsu Day
During World War II, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated under Executive Order 9066, due to fears about support for the Japanese, despite over two-third being U.S. Citizens.
The 23 year old Fred Korematsu refused to comply with the Executive Order to go to the incarceration camp. Following his arrest and conviction he appealed his case all the way through to the Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1944.
In 1983, new evidence was uncovered which showed that Japanese-Americans had committed no acts of treason that would have justified the government's action of large scale incarceration. In November 1983, a federal court overturned Korematsu's conviction.
Following the overturning of his conviction, Korematsu remained involved in civil rights activities, participating in the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations. He helped lobby for the passage of a bill that would grant an official apology from the U.S. government and compensation of $20,000 for each surviving Japanese American that had been incarcerated.
In 1998, Korematsu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the US.
In March 2005, Fred Korematsu died of respiratory failure at the age of 86.
- Read more about Fred Korematsu at The Fred T. Korematsu Institute.