2015-02-18 / Features

Dromm Honors Civil Rights Worker


Councilmember Daniel Dromm presented Karen Korematsu, daughter of the late Fred Korematsu, a Proclamation for her father’s important contribution to the Civil Rights movement and social justice for all. Councilmember Daniel Dromm presented Karen Korematsu, daughter of the late Fred Korematsu, a Proclamation for her father’s important contribution to the Civil Rights movement and social justice for all. Councilmember Daniel Dromm honored Karen Korematsu, daughter of the late Fred Korematsu, with a City Council Proclamation on February 7 at the United Federation of Teachers’ 55th Annual Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies conference.

Fred Korematsu at the age of 23 refused to enter an incarceration camp set up for Japanese Americans living on the West Coast following World War II. He was later arrested for defying the government, an arrest he appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court. However in 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, saying that incarceration for Japanese Americans was a military necessity.

In 1983, Professor Peter Irons, a legal historian, found legal documents hidden from the Supreme Court in 1944. A pro bono team took on the case and later that year a federal court in San Francisco overturned Korematsu’s case.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton presented Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2010, the state of California passed the Fred Korematsu Day bill, making January 30 the first day in the United States named after an Asian American. Korematsu continued advocating for civil rights until his death in 2005, at the age of 86.

Karen Korematsu is an advocate for civil rights and education. In 2009 she cofounded the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education at the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco.

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