LANSING — Today, the Asian Pacific American Legislative Caucus held a presentation on Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American who refused to go to an internment camp during World War II. Karen Korematsu, executive director of the Korematsu Institute, and daughter of Mr. Korematsu, attended the presentation to serve on a panel of other experts in Asian Pacific American topics.
“Standing here today with Karen Korematsu to speak out on behalf of all Americans seeking fair treatment and equal protection is truly an honor,” House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) said. “Earlier this session, I introduced House Bill 4595 to add Michigan to the growing number of states that officially recognize Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day. I am also pleased to sponsor a resolution to mark Jan. 30, 2016, as Fred Korematsu Day, while my bill makes its way through the legislative process. I believe that understanding and recognizing past events are critical to our ongoing conversation around civil rights today.”
Several other states have passed similar bills and proclamations recognizing Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day in order to draw attention to Korematsu, who was imprisoned for refusing to go to an internment camp, and others who were forced there unjustly.
“It’s only right that we recognize Fred Korematsu for the contributions he has made to civil liberties in our country,” state Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) said. “Today’s events have truly highlighted the sacrifices that Mr. Korematsu underwent in order to stand against racial injustice and prejudices.”
Also on the panel at today’s presentation were: Theresa Tran, Executive Director of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote-Michigan; Mary Kamidoi, long-time Michigan resident and internee at the Rowher, Ark. Japanese Internment Camp, and member of the Japanese American Citizens League; and, Roland Hwang, professor of Asian American and Civil Rights at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, and commissioner for the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission.
“It was a pleasure to have Karen Korematsu at the state Capitol today. Her father’s courage in defying an internment order and determination made him a true civil rights hero, not just for Asian Pacific Americans, but all Americans,” state Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) said. “I hope that my colleagues who learned about his story today will support legislation to make Jan. 30 officially Fred Korematsu Day in Michigan.”
“Fred Korematsu Day is named after my father, but the fight continues for all Americans to seek equality and justice,” Karen Korematsu said. “We must continue to be vigilant to uphold our civil liberties and the constitution in the face of racism, prejudice and national security issues.”