American civil rights activist Fred Korematsu was born in California on this day, in 1919.
Korematsu was rejected for active duty during World War II by the US Navy. Unperturbed, he decided to become a welder so as to participate in the defense war efforts. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was unable to find work anywhere because of his Japanese heritage.
On February 19th, 1942, President FDR signed Executive Order 9066 which, among other things, authorized people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast to be forcibly removed from their homes, and brought to internment camps.
Korematsu challenged this and became a fugitive.
He was caught, and accepted the ACLU's proposal to use his case to question the legality of the Japanese American internment. Korematsu lost the case and was sent with his family to the Central Utah War Relocation Center until 1945.
It wasn't until 1976 that the Executive Order was officially ended by President Ford. In 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which included a formal apology to the roughly 120,000 Japanese Americans who were sent to camps, a promise to educate the public about these unjust events with the goal of avoiding a recurrence, and a pledge to "discourage the occurrence of similar injustices and violations of civil liberties in the future"...
|| "If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don't be afraid to speak up." || "One person can make a difference, even if it takes forty years." ||