AABANY Celebrates 2nd Annual Fred Korematsu Day in New York City

On Wednesday, January 30th, AABANY celebrated Fred Korematsu’s 100th birthday and New York City’s 2nd annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. The historic event was presented by the Asian Practice Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA), the New York Day of Remembrance Committee, AABANY and numerous community groups. The event was hosted by NYCLA, at 14 Vesey Street, and over 150 individuals braved the freezing cold and attended to honor Fred Korematsu and his legacy.

Fred Korematsu was a Japanese American man who lived during the era of Japanese internment. Under FDR’s Executive Order 9066, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were sent to concentration camps without any hearing or due process. Fred Korematsu challenged the order by refusing to go to the concentration camp he was assigned to; his case made it all the way to the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. United States. The Court, however, deferred to the Executive Order and ruled in a 6-3 landmark decision that internment was based on “military necessity.” Korematsu’s conviction was eventually overturned in 1984 in a coram nobis proceeding in which the court found that the government deliberately misstated facts or provided misleading information in obtaining the conviction of Fred Korematsu.

At the celebration, AABANY members performed “Fred Korematsu and His Fight for Justice,” a reenactment of legal proceedings in Korematsu v. United States. The reenactment was led by Hon. Denny Chin, United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Kathy Hirata Chin, Partner at Crowell & Moring, 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.

A panel discussion on “Why the Korematsu Case Still Matters Today” followed the reenactment. The panelists were Prof. Rose Cuison Villazor of Rutgers Law School and Afaf Nasher, Executive Director for the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director and Issues Committee Chair, moderated the discussion. The panelist remarked on the importance of Korematsu in Asian Pacific American History, connecting his legacy to APA community outreach and condemning the parallels between Korematsu’s case and the current Administration’s stances on immigration, deportation, and detention.

AABANY was proud to be part of this historic celebration of Korematsu Day in New York. We were particularly pleased to be joined by Koji Abe, Deputy Chief of Mission, Jin Hashimoto, Political Consul, Yuki Kaneshige, Public Affairs Specialist from the Consulate General of Japan, and City Councilman Daniel Dromm who introduced the New York City Council resolution that established Jan. 30th as the Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in New York City.

The celebration was covered by NHK World Japan and WNYC News. To learn more click on the following links.



We invite everyone to learn more about Fred Korematsu and his legacy by visiting the Korematsu Institute website. http://www.korematsuinstitute.org/homepage/

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