WASHINGTON — Jan. 30 was Fred Korematsu Day, the birthday of an American civil rights activist of Japanese descent who objected to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
In celebration of Fred Korematsu Day, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements to honor him:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “In one of America’s darkest hours, in the face of one of our most shameful policies, Fred Korematsu stood up for what is right despite an unjust Supreme Court ruling against him. His fight against the hateful imprisonment of over 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during World War II served as a symbol of hope.
“By refusing to remain silent in the face of racism and injustice, he reminded us that we must remain steadfast in protecting the civil right and liberties of all Americans. Like so many Asian Americans who experienced prejudice and bigotry, Fred Korematsu believed American values could overcome the failures in American policies. And his example is one we must still follow today as xenophobia and prejudice continue to impact Asian Americans across the nation.
“Ultimately, Fred Korematsu’s fight was vindicated when the federal government apologized for the sin of Japanese imprisonment and the Supreme Court later overturned its ruling against him. But the work continues. As we work to undo the harm and damage the Trump Administration caused, Fred’s story is a constant reminder of the difference one person can make in fighting injustice. That is why I am so thrilled the Biden-Harris Administration is determined to implement policies and actions to help immigrants, religious minorities, and people of color thrive.
“As we commemorate Fred Korematsu on what would have been his 102nd birthday, let us continue to honor his legacy and reaffirm our commitment to opposing racism, discrimination and inequality in all forms.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), CAPAC first vice chair: “Today we celebrate the civil rights hero Fred Korematsu, who bravely fought injustice throughout his life. From challenging the legality of internment of Japanese Americans to advocating on behalf of Muslim inmates held at Guantanamo Bay, Fred Korematsu continued to combat racial prejudice and injustice throughout his life. As we honor the legacy of Fred Korematsu, let us draw inspiration from his commitment to stand against bigotry and discrimination.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC second vice chair: “On Fred Korematsu Day, we honor a justice-seeker who forced America to reckon with the atrocities of Japanese American internment. His challenge to Executive Order 9066, and what we learned from it, was crucial in the fight for redress for the Japanese Americans who suffered through internment. As we honor the memory of this civil rights hero, may we all channel his spirit of justice and fight against oppression in all its forms.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), CAPAC whip: “I’m proud to join my CAPAC colleagues in celebrating Fred Korematsu Day. Fred Korematsu was a brave, fearless fighter who stood up against the unjust and disgraceful internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. May his courage in the face of adversity continue to inspire us all to fight for a more equitable and just America.”
Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii), CAPAC freshmen representative: “Fred Korematsu stood up against the racial injustice and the wrongful internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. Today, we remember his courage and celebrate his legacy by ensuring history never repeats itself. May we all continue to fight against discrimination in all forms.”
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), CAPAC Executive Board member: “On Fred Korematsu Day, we celebrate the life of a courageous leader who stood up for the rights of Japanese Americans detained during World War II. Even when the federal government impinged on his own liberty, Fred fought to expand civil rights and seek justice in his own false criminal conviction. I will continue working to award Fred Korematsu with Congress’ highest civilian honor, an appropriate expression of gratitude for his constant advocacy for civil rights. His legacy continues to serve as a reminder that we all have a responsibility to defend justice and equality.”
Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash), CAPAC Executive Board member: “Civil rights activist Fred Korematsu is a hero who stood up against the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during world War II. Let’s honor his powerful legacy by committing to always speak out against injustice.”