On Oct. 25, 2017, the New York City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, Chaired by Council Member James Van Bramer, held a hearing on Res. No. 792 to name January 30 annually as Fred T. Korematsu Day in New York City. The legislation was introduced by Council Member Daniel Dromm and is co-sponsored by 34 other Council Members.
The hearing was attended by many supporters of the legislation and kicked off with testimony from Fred Korematsu’s daughter, Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Korematsu Institute, who called in from the West Coast. Also, testifying by phone from the West Coast was Lori Bannai, one of the attorneys who fought successfully to overturn Korematsu’s conviction through a coram nobis lawsuit brought in the 1980s, four decades after Korematsu’s conviction for violating Executive Order 9066 was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.
Testimony in support of Res. No. 792 came from many different community groups and individuals, including Japanese Americans who were born in the internment camps and representatives of Muslim and LGBTQ organizations. A group of high school students representing the CACF (Coalition of Asian American Children and Families) Youth Leadership Program ASAP (Asian American Student Advocacy Project) also testified about the importance of Fred Korematsu and recognizing his contributions to civil rights with a day named after him.
AABANY was privileged and honored to offer its testimony in support of Korematsu Day. Speaking on behalf of AABANY, Executive Director Yang Chen explained how AABANY’s Trial Reenactment project educates lawyers and the larger community about the stories of Asian Pacific Americans like Fred Korematsu who have helped to shape American legal, political and social history. AABANY’s next reenactment, to be performed for the first time at the NAPABA National Convention in Washington, DC, on Nov. 3, will be about the Korematsu case, to mark the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 which led to the internment of some 120,000 Japanese American citizens.
“We respectfully ask the City Council to stand up for what is right, to pass Res. No. 792 so that January 30, Fred Korematsu Day, will become a reality and serve as a constant reminder of the the principles of equality, justice, civil rights, human rights and due process enshrined in the US Constitution,” stated Yang Chen at the conclusion of his testimony.
Chair Van Bramer and Council Member Dromm both expressed their strong support for Korematsu Day and anticipated that it will come up for a vote before the City Council in the near future and that it will pass.
The full text of the resolution can be found here.