On May 24, AABANY and Allen & Overy (A&O) presented a reenactment of the historic case Oyama v. State of California, in commemoration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This landmark case was reenacted by attorneys and law students to tell a captivating story involving AAPI litigants on an important constitutional case known to very few but which has resonance to the present day.
Inspired by Prof. Rose Cuison Villazor’s law review article, “Rediscovering Oyama v. California: At the Intersection of Property, Race, and Citizenship,” 87 Wash. U. L. Rev. 979 (2010), the reenactment dealt with the California Alien Land Law which prevented “aliens ineligible from citizenship” – i.e., Japanese – from owning land. The case explored the ways in which denial of property rights also served to promote racial discrimination against the Japanese in California. In the case, Kajiro Oyama, a Japanese immigrant who was ineligible for United States citizenship at the time, bought a parcel of farmland which he deeded to his minor son Fred, who was born in the United States and was thus a citizen. Under the Alien Land Laws, this transaction was deemed a fraud and the State of California brought suit against Fred Oyama to escheat the property. The case went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, where the statute’s constitutionality was placed before the Court for its review.
The in-person reenactment was followed by a lively panel discussion co-sponsored by A&O’s U.S. Asian Affinity Network. The discussion was led by A&O Partner John Hwang and Associate Rachel Lee and featuring guest speakers Professor Rose Cuison-Villazor and Shenyang Wu. As the Interim Co-Dean at Rutgers Law School, Professor Cuison-Villazor shared details of her personal discussion with the Oyama family in 2010 for her paper. Shenyang, a partner at Alpha Law NY PLLC and a co-founder of the Chinese American Legal Defense Alliance (CALDA), reinforced that sentiments from legislation like the Alien Land Act of 1913 are still alive by noting Texas lawmakers’ recent decision to restrict Chinese foreign nationals’ land ownership.
A particularly poignant moment during the panel occurred when John Hwang conducted an informal survey of the number of lawyers who had heard of the Oyama v. California case prior to the reenactment. In a room of more than 50 attorneys and law students, less than 5 people raised their hands. This demonstrates how much more work needs to be done for AAPI and the law in legal education and highlights the importance of reenactments like this. The significance of the case for the AAPI community extends beyond issues of immigration, residency, and land ownership. It symbolizes the power of every voice that deserves to be heard and every story that needs to be told.
We thank Allen & Overy and all of the participants in the reenactment for giving their time to raise awareness of the Oyama family’s legacy. For more information about AABANY’s trial reenactment project, visit https://reenactments.aabany.org/.
AABANY is longtime community partner to the AAIFF, and AABANY members are invited to attend the film festival with the special 20% discount code: AAIFF45BAR.
Our own Francis Chin, AABANY’s professional development committee chair will also be speaking on the 72 Hour Shootout post-screening panel, a special part of the AAIFF.
About the Festival
The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) proudly known as “The First Home to Asian American Cinema,” is the first and longest running festival to premier and showcase independent Asian, Asian diaspora and Pacific Islander cinema. With its origins at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City’s Lower East Side, the AAIFF brings together audiences from all over New York City, the tri-state region, and around the world. The 45th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF45) will take place from August 3 – 13, and combines in-person screenings and events with online programs.
This year, AAIFF will feature FREE CHOL SOO LEE, a documentary which excavates the essential story of 1970s San Francisco, when 20-year-old Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee is racially profiled and convicted of a Chinatown gang murder. In the past, AABANY featured Chol Soo Lee’s case in a trial reenactment titled,Alice in Chinatown: Chol Soo Lee and His Fight for Freedom. Five decades later, this documentary by Julie Ha and Eugene Yi revisits Chol Soo Lee’s story and serves as an urgent reminder that his legacy is more relevant than ever.
On August 13th, the festival will showcase its Closing Night Presentations. Features include DEAR CORKY, directed by Curtis Chin illustrating an intimate look at the legendary photographer Corky Lee. A long-time friend of AABANY, we have hosted various events honoring Corky’s legacy, including the photo exhibit “Photographic Justice: A Tribute to Corky Lee,” currently showing at the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York. Passionate about activism, documenting history, and combatting Asian hate crimes through his camera, Dear Corky is a film revealing the man behind the iconic pictures that mobilized the Asian American community.
To learn more about the other films and see the full schedule of the festival, click here. For more information about ticketing, click here.
On May 25, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) hosted an information briefing about the AAVTF’s activities and about the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers for the event were AABANY President Terry Shen; Board Director, Issues Committee Co-Chair and Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair Chris Kwok; Board Director and past Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee Co-Chair Karen Yau; PBCS Committee Co-Chair Karen King; Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair Joseb Gim; and Executive Director Yang Chen.
Chris and President Shen gave the opening remarks, introducing the event, and thanking all the attendees for coming.
After these remarks, Chris began the presentation, explaining how the publicity about anti-Asian violence generated in mainstream media has suddenly catapulted Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) into the public consciousness. Unlike before, Asians are now viewed as a group that experiences discrimination and violence, just like any other minority. Chris explained that these realizations politically empower AAPIs to make change in the political system as Asians become more aware about race and the ways in which it affects them. The AAPI identity has also been recreated through artwork, publications, and other initiatives. Asian non-profits have also begun receiving a large influx of donations that have great potential to aid the AAPI community. Chris also discussed the history of AABANY’s report and how Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about the virus incited a wave of anti-Asian hate and violence during early 2020. These events culminated in the report’s publication in February 2021. Karen then discussed the report’s publication process which involved the feedback and support of bar associations, law firms and other organizations. The subsequent publicity generated by the report was cemented by the anti-Asian shootings in Atlanta. Ever since, Karen explained, AABANY has frequently been requested to speak at numerous events and on many media outlets. Many initiatives proposed by the report have also since been implemented.
Yang then went on to discuss the genesis of the AAVTF, made up of members of the Academic Committee, Issues Committee, Legal Referral and Information Services (LRIS) Committee, PBCS Committee, Prosecutors Committee, and Student Outreach Committee as well as Immediate Past President Sapna Palla, President Shen, and President-Elect Will Ng. Yang also explained how the AAVTF was founded to realize the goals outlined in the report, focusing on three prongs of action: education/communication, research, and advocacy. Ever since, the AAVTF has pressed for hate crime prosecutions in DA Offices, published Know Your Rights Brochures for community members on what to do if they face an anti-Asian bias incident or hate crime, organized speaking engagements, begun data tracking for incidents, formed the Hate Eradication Active Response Team (HEART), and much more to raise awareness and combat anti-Asian violence.
Joe Gim, prosecutor and the Chief of the new Hate Crimes Bureau at the Nassau County DA Office next discussed the role of the Prosecutors’ Committee in the AAVTF, which was primarily to shed light on criminal statutes and on the gaps between law enforcement’s understanding and implementation of these statutes. This information, Joe explained, is used to strengthen AABANY’s initiatives and advocacy efforts.
Chris affirmed this statement, reiterating his thanks to the AAVTF and the indispensable support it provides in leading the conversation about anti-Asian violence. Chris also pointed out that any movements that fight back against hate, regardless of which group is targeted, are fighting against a common enemy of structural racism.
Yang and Karen Yau went on to promote the Turning the Tide (T3) Project, which is hosted at the Asian American Law Fund of New York (AALFNY) to raise money for the AAVTF’s initiatives, research, and advocacy combating anti-Asian hate and violence. Karen King also gave a special shoutout to the HEART initiative, encouraging the attendees to volunteer their time to help connect victims of anti-Asian violence with legal aid and other resources. She also encouraged attendees to involve their law firms as sponsors for projects and events.
Chris then closed the presentation by pointing out how the police’s lackluster response to hate crimes is in part due to the historical invisibility of the AAPI community. He also explained how this invisibility has its roots in the 1853 People v. Hall case where George Hall, a white man, was convicted but then released after murdering a Chinese miner. Chris explained how Hall appealed his release on the basis of a California statute which prevented people of color from testifying against whites. Chris also emphasized that supporting the Black Lives Matter movement does not detract from support for the AAPI cause. To illustrate the importance of building a multi-racial coalition, Chris recounted an interview he had with the celebrated documentary director Spike Lee for his film about New York City and race that will be released in September 2021. Lee explained that he had chosen to interview Chris because “people were asking where the Asians were. And I listened.”
After the presentations, the discussion was opened to the attendees for a question and answer session.
Karen Lin, PBCS Committee Co-Chair asked whether or not AABANY would advocate for including AAPI history in the public school curriculum. Yang answered by reiterating AABANY’s support of any educational initiatives, pointing to AABANY’s trial reenactments project as an example.
AABANY member Jennifer Luo then pointed the discussion towards the lack of successful hate crime prosecutions. Joe explained that law enforcement currently lacks sufficient resources and infrastructure to investigate hate crimes. As hate crimes are unique in that the prosecutor must prove that the perpetrator was motivated to commit the crime due to racial bias, this process requires more investigation and information which the police currently lacks. To address this issue, Joe also proposed creating a database of hate crimes and bias incidents that would allow law enforcement to easily access information and also to enable community members to report incidents more efficiently. He also mentioned the newly minted COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would allocate funding towards combating hate crimes. Chris also added that AABANY is planning a Candidates’ Forum that would give AABANY and its members an opportunity to ask about measures being considered to protect the AAPI community from violence.
David Ahn then asked about AABANY’s plans to monitor hate crimes going forward. Chris answered by citing AABANY’s involvement in a case in Flushing, Queens where the perpetrator, despite revealing his racist sentiments in a text sent to the New York Times, was not charged with a hate crime. After AABANY’s advocacy in the DA’s Office, the perpetrator was charged with a hate crime. Chris also added that, though not every case would lead to a hate crime enhancement, AABANY is continuing to monitor the news and other outlets for advocacy opportunities. Yang also explained that the HEART initiative would help AABANY keep track of the incidents, connect with the community, and improve AABANY’s advocacy efforts. Karen Yau also pointed out that there are other alternatives to criminal prosecutions that victims would be able to pursue if they wished.
Chris then shared his own experiences with anti-Asian violence growing up, recounting a story where his friends were assaulted by a white supremacist gang while exiting a movie theater in Queens. He also described his efforts to reconnect with them hoping to preserve their stories and voices as a part of the history of anti-Asian violence.
AABANY Treasurer William Hao also discussed his own involvement in the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings while on a call with former U.S. Attorney Byung J. (“BJay”) Pak, the FBI, and local law enforcement. Will shared that even though the media had severely twisted the narrative by promoting the perpetrator’s claim that he had not been motivated by racism, the call served to give Asians a voice in revealing the truth of the events and reshaping the story. Will concluded by emphasizing the importance of AAPI representation in government and law enforcement.
Marilyn Go (USMJ EDNY, ret’d) then asked about AABANY’s ability to speak out during majority political forums. Chris answered by pointing out the difficulty of entering majority forums, but also noted that events recorded on Zoom would allow AABANY to hold candidates accountable for their words. Yang also referenced the City Council District One Candidates’ Forum which did take questions from AABANY regarding the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. Jennifer then asked about the possibility of keeping a record of candidates’ responses regarding issues of anti-Asian violence. Chris responded that AABANY’s future plans to hold a Manhattan DA Candidates’ forum would allow AABANY to record responses from the candidates on that issue.
AABANY thanks all of the attendees for their time and their commitment to serving the AAPI community. To view the recording of the event, click here.
Vincent Chin is a name painfully familiar to some and unrecognizable to others. It is the beginning of so many stories, including mine. Three years ago, I met Annie Tan (no relation to me, though we happen to share the same name), an Asian American activist, teacher, and niece of Vincent Chin. She was the keynote speaker at Crossroads, a conference for young Asian American activists organized by Columbia students. I was a confused 16-year-old attending my first conference dedicated to activism.
At the time, I had just begun exploring my Asian American identity and history. Through self-education and discussions with other students, I learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act and the model minority myth. But, despite my interest in activism, I did not believe that I could seriously pursue or be successful in creating change for the Asian American community. Who would listen to a young, Asian American girl, not even old enough to vote, talk about race, especially when these conversations are often so complex and black and white?
However, as Annie Tan stood behind the podium and began recounting her own journey in activism–how she found a supportive community through Columbia’s Asian American Alliance, and how the legacy of her uncle, Vincent Chin, affected her work–I realized that someone like me, someone who looked like me and even had the same name as me, could be an activist. Because of Asian American women like Lily Chin and Helen Zia, Vincent Chin’s death became not just a moment, but a movement for Asian Americans. And, it is because of people like Annie Tan, and maybe even people like me, that the story of Vincent Chin, and the story of Asian America, continues to be told and heard.
This year, on May 28, during APA Heritage Month, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) co-sponsored a virtual trial re-enactment of the Vincent Chin case with Allen & Overy–the first time a reenactment has been performed virtually via WebEx due to the restrictions of COVID-19. I attended this event, hoping to learn more about the man whose life inspired so many, including myself, to speak out against hatred, violence, and inequity.
Vincent Chin was beaten to death in 1982 in Detroit days before his wedding by two white men, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, who were laid-off automobile workers. The fatal assault was preceded by an argument between Chin and Ebens, who hurled racial insults at Chin, reportedly calling him a “Nip.” At the time, Asian Americans were the face of the enemy: the robust Japanese automobile industry was putting many automobile workers in Detroit, like Ebens and Nitz, out of work.
Despite the violent acts that Chin’s murderers committed, they were imposed only a fine for their crimes. When the case reached the Wayne County Circuit Court, Judge Kaufman, finding Ebens and Nitz guilty of manslaughter, only sentenced them to three years probation and a fine of approximately $3,000. They received no jail time, and no prosecutor appeared during the trial, nor was Chin’s family notified of the trial.
Frustrated with this outcome, Helen Zia and Lily Chin, supported by the newly-founded Asian American civil rights organization American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), urged the U.S. Department of Justice to bring federal criminal charges against the murderers and investigate the case as a civil rights violation. The case was brought to Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, one of the first African American women to serve on the Federal bench, and in 1984, the U.S. District Court found Ebens guilty of violating the civil rights of Chin and sentenced him to 25 years in prison. However, Ebens’ lawyers appealed, claiming that the trial judge did not allow the defense to present evidence that suggested the prosecution tampered with the witness testimony. This led to a retrial in the federal court in Cincinnati on May 1, 1987, which found that Ebens was not guilty of violating Chin’s civil rights and that his actions were not motivated by Chin’s race. The same year, Ebens and Nitz settled a civil suit out of court, where Nitz was ordered to pay $50,000 and Ebens was ordered to pay $1.5 million to the Chin estate. To this day, Ebens has not served any jail time and has yet to pay the now $8 million (with accumulated interest) he owes to the Chin family.
The Vincent Chin case highlighted the flaws in our criminal justice system and served as a catalyst for Asian American civil rights engagement. Following the trials, federal and state laws were enacted to give victims of hate crimes greater rights. The case also led to reforms in sentencing and plea bargaining, including the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. Most importantly, Chin’s murder awakened the civil rights consciousness of Asian Americans in a time when the subject of race was still Black and White. Asian Americans were galvanized by the notion that they, just like Vincent Chin, could be beaten to death because of their race without the perpetrators suffering any consequences. People across ethnic and socioeconomic lines joined together to seek justice for Chin, creating organizations such as American Citizens for Justice, now known as the Asian American Center for Justice, focused on civil rights work.
A panel discussion followed the trial re-enactment, featuring: Christine Choy, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary film, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” and professor at NYU Tisch School of Arts; Emil Guillermo, print and broadcast journalist, and contributor to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s blog; and Jia Lynn Yang, Deputy National Editor at The New York Times and author of One Mighty and Irresistible Tide, which examines the history of immigration in the United States. The discussion was moderated by John Hwang, Partner, and Jiawei Chin, Associate, at Allen & Overy.
Christine Choy reflected on the evolution of activism and the Asian American identity, referencing major events such as the end of the Vietnam War, and the rise of the Black Panther Party and other young student movements. She cited the Red Guard Party in Chinatown as an early example of Asian American activism and stressed that Vincent Chin’s murder was responsible for asserting Asian Americans’ role in civil rights.
Emil Guillermo emphasized that though the crime of Vincent Chin awoke people in Detroit, he, himself, did not know as much as he should have about the case. As we approach the 40th anniversary of Chin’s death, most people still do not understand the full picture of what happened during Chin’s case. Guillermo also highlighted the similarities between Vincent Chin’s death and that of George Floyd, urging the Asian American community to recognize their shared experiences with Black communities.
Finally, Jia Lynn Yang noted how quickly the Asian American population has grown, rising from 3.5 million in 1980 to now over 20 million. Despite their growing presence, Asian Americans are still viewed as foreigners who will never belong in the United States, just as Vincent Chin was. In fact, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which allowed many Asian Americans to immigrate to this country, was not consciously written to welcome non-Europeans. Now, however, almost two-thirds of Asian Americans are foreign-born, and the xenophobic attacks Chin faced have transformed into anti-Asian violence and harassment from racially-charged fears over COVID-19.
Many of us are tied to Vincent Chin, often in ways we may not even realize. He is the reason why many individuals, like myself, are inspired and emboldened to engage in Asian American activism. Vincent Chin is not just a memory they think of once a year, on the anniversary of his death. As I listened to Annie Tan describe her family’s pain, and how brave and lonely Lily Chin–her great aunt–was as she fought for her son’s justice, I understood that Vincent’s murder is a wound that continues to haunt families, friends, and communities connected to him, and a legacy that is still alive in Asian Americans today.
It is easy for us to forget their names: Vincent Chin, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain. But we must recognize that these individuals are not simply statistics or hashtags. Their lives–cut short by racism, bigotry, and the failures of our criminal justice system–mattered. Their lives have the power to inspire people to take action against hate and to spark movements, but this is only possible if we continue to learn about and honor these individuals, whose stories have been lost and overlooked. Only then, by acknowledging those before us, can we strive to create real change and avoid repeating the past.
We thank Allen & Overy and all of the participants in the reenactment for giving their time to raise awareness of Vincent Chin’s legacy. To learn more about the Vincent Chin trial reenactment and to request the script, go here. For more information about AABANY’s trial reenactments project, visit https://reenactments.aabany.org/.
Here’s a recap of everything you might have missed!
Looking at social media posts from the Convention, we were pleased to see so many attendees share our feeling that NAPABA is a family, a group of friends and colleagues, and most importantly, a community. No matter the field, the level of experience, or geographic location, we are one NAPABA.
We’re excited to head into 2020 with you all, but first let’s look back at this year’s Convention!
New Year, New Leadership
Bonnie Lee Wolf was sworn in as NAPABA’s president. We are inspired by her vision for NAPABA and look forward to supporting her leadership!
Using History to Inform Our Future
Through a re-enactment and historical materials, we revisited the importance of Korematsu v. United States,
when Fred Korematsu challenged Executive Order 9066, which led to the
incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Individuals who
played key roles in the successful effort to overturn Korematsu’s
conviction in the 1983 case brought his story to life, connecting his
values of equity and human rights to the issues we face today.
During the Saturday plenary, an inspiring group of LGBTQ attorneys reflected on the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas that opened the door for inclusion for diverse communities and laid the groundwork for marriage equality to become a right across the country. However, true inclusion is still a work in progress. Panelists offered their look at the future of diversity and inclusion for the LGBTQ community.
Celebrating 31 Years
At our Anniversary Gala, we celebrated 31 years of NAPABA by looking to
the future with a swearing-in of the 2019-20 NAPABA Board of Governors.
Comedian, actor and writer Sheng Wang hosted the gala and Chef Kristen
Kish and food critic Soleil Ho had a great conversation about identity,
self-worth and success.
2019 Award Winners
We were honored to recognize this year’s award winners at the 2019
NAPABA Convention. We’re proud to have so many distinguished members,
who inspire our work every day.
Affiliate of the Year Award
APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award
Law Firm Diversity Award
Military and Veteran Service Award
Pro Bono Award
Women’s Leadership Award
Best Under 40
Vanessa E. Candelaria | Attorney, Law Offices of Vanessa Candelaria Christina Chan | Assistant Attorney General, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General Nooree Lee | Associate, Covington & Burling LLP Cindy Lin | Partner, King & Spalding LLP Laurie Rose Lubiano | IP & Product Counsel, The Climate Corporation Catherine Y. Lui | Partner, Orrick LLP Jessica Nguyen | General Counsel, PayScale, Inc. Marc A. Pilotin | General Counsel, California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Sid Shenoy | Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP Christopher Thana Sukhaphadhana | Senior Counsel, Intellectual Property, Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc. Jerry Vattamala | Democracy Program Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund Johnny Wang | Partner, Stinson LLP Jovita T. Wang | Partner, Richardson Wright LLP Bryant Y. Yang | Assistant U.S Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office Bilal Zaheer | Partner, Locke Lord LLP
Partners Network In-House Counsel Awards
Diversity Leadership Rising Star Award
Diversity Leadership Award
NAPABA Gives Back
Thanks to everyone who joined us at our Community Service Project and Farewell Breakfast! We assembled over 200 care packages for the Asian Family Support Services of Austin. AFSS Austin is a nonprofit that helps Asian, immigrant and refugee survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault & trafficking.
A Message from NAPABA Law Foundation
Law Foundation thanks everyone who donated during convention to support
NLF’s fellowships, scholarships, and the Thomas Tang National Moot Court
Whether by buying a Fred Korematsu or Judge Denny Chin bobblehead, wagering at Casino Night, bidding on silent auction items, or using text-to-give during the Gala, these proceeds will be used to advance access to justice for our communities.
Speaking of the text-to-give, congratulations on breaking the system! It appears that so many people were jumping on their smartphones to donate that our vendor’s system crashed!
If you were unable to make a gift at Convention, you may donate via NLF’s website by clicking here. Remember, Harry Gee, Jr., and his family are matching the first $150,000 raised! Every dollar you donate will have double the impact!
Thank You to Our Sponsors
Thank you to the amazing sponsors who supported the 2019 NAPABA Convention.
Premier Sponsor Walmart
Jade Sponsors Littler Microsoft Prudential
Platinum Sponsors Akin Gump Apple Baker Botts Comcast NBC Universal Goodwin Google McGuireWoods Nationwide Paul Weiss Seyfarth Shaw
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 coramnobis 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.
On January 30th, AABANY co-sponsored and celebrated New York City’s 2nd annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution, hosted by the New York County Lawyers Association at 14 Vesey Street. The event was covered by NHK World Japan.
Lawyers in New York have reenacted the legal battle of a second-generation Japanese-American who challenged the constitutionality of the US internment policy during World War Two.
To see the video and to read the full article, click on the image below.
YORK, January 25, 2019 – New York City will celebrate its 2nd annual Fred
Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on Wednesday, January 30,
2019, hosted by the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) at 14 Vesey
Street from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. This event marks Korematsu’s 100th birthday.
The Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution is already
officially recognized in four states and was first officially celebrated in New
York City in 2018. Spearheaded by the Asian Practice Committee of NYCLA, the
Asian American Bar Association of New York joins the New York Day of
Remembrance Committee and numerous community groups to organize this historic
celebration, Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) members will perform
“Fred Korematsu and His Fight for Justice,” a reenactment of legal proceedings
in Korematsu v. United States. Judge
Denny Chin, United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and
Kathy Hirata Chin, Partner at Crowell & Moring, will narrate the reenactment.
the Korematsu Case Still Matters Today,” a panel discussion, will follow the
reenactment. The panelists are 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, will be the moderator.
T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he
refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans.
After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he
appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court
ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified by military
1983, in light of new evidence of government misconduct, Korematsu’s
40-year-old case was reopened. On November 10, 1983, Korematsu’s conviction was
overturned in a federal court in San Francisco. It was a pivotal moment in
civil rights history.
remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill
is proud to help celebrate Fred Korematsu’s 100th birthday, on the occasion of
the second annual Korematsu Day in New York City,” states Yang Chen, AABANY’s
Executive Director. “AABANY was among the groups in New York that testified
before the New York City Council in 2017 in support of commemorating January
30th each year as the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the
Constitution in New York City. We were there last year for the inaugural
celebration, and we are honored to be able to present one of our trial reenactments
to recount the story of Fred Korematsu and his struggle for justice. The only
way we can ensure that we as Americans never again repeat the gross injustice
Japanese Americans suffered during World War II is to tell his story and share
its many lessons with the general public.”
more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212)
332-2478, or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership
organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific
American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage
the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian
Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a New York regional affiliate
of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).