On Monday, June 4, AABANY, together with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, co-sponsored a trial reenactment of Korematsu v. United States at Cadwalader, weaving together photos, documents, and excerpts from court proceedings to recount the story of Fred Korematsu and his fight for justice. Nearly 400 individuals attended the event, marking the largest turnout that AABANY has ever experienced for a trial reenactment performed by its members. Among the attendees were Fred Korematsu’s daughter and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, Karen Korematsu.
This trial reenactment brought to life the story of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American who was arrested and convicted of violating Executive Order 9066 in 1942. This order, signed by President Roosevelt in February 1942, forcibly removed Japanese-Americans from their homes and relocated them to concentration camps. While the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court ultimately upheld Korematsu’s conviction, the case returned to the spotlight in 1981, when Fred Korematsu and a team of lawyers petitioned for coram nobis to overturn the conviction based on evidence that the government’s basis for forced relocation of citizens relied on flimsy and false foundations. Karen Korematsu concluded the reenactment by reading from her February 2017 Op-Ed for the New York Times, titled “When Lies Overruled Right,” reminding us that the struggle for justice is ever-present, and that the lessons from Fred Korematsu’s story are more relevant than ever today.
The reenactment was led by Hon. Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata-Chin, who reprised their roles as Narrators 1 and 2. Also part of the cast were many veterans of the reenactment team, including Hon. Kiyo Matsumoto, Vincent Chang, Vinoo Varghese, Francis Chin, Clara Ohr, Andrew Hahn, Yang Chen and David Weinberg.
We would like to thank Cadwalader for hosting this trial reenactment, and all the attendees for making it a memorable night. We also thank Cadwalader for the post-performance reception and for taping the reenactment so that those who could not come in person can also view it at a later time.
To learn more about AABANY’s previous trial reenactments, please visit reenactments.aabany.org.