The City of Pasadena was the first city in Southern CA to pass an annual Fred Korematsu Day to be held on the date of his birth, Jan. 30th. This resolution was passed by Pasadena City Council on February 28, 2011. We honor this individual as well as fellow activists Min Yasui and Gordon Hirabayashi and Americans of Japanese descent who were interned during World War II.
WHAT: Fred Korematsu Day, Pasadena
WHEN: Monday – Jan. 30, 2012 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
WHAT: Donald Wright Auditorium, Main Pasadena Public Library
MORE: 4:30 – 6:00 pm – Meeting – Invite input for Fred Korematsu Day 2013; 6:30 pm – Presentation to Pasadena City Council
INFO: FREE event but seating is limited. For more information & Parking go to www.WowEventProductions.com or contact Wendy at email@example.com 626-683-8243
(Note: No parking is allowed in the library parking lot for this event)
> Opening Remarks – Pasadena Mayor BILL BOGAARD
> Pasadena Resident ESTHER TAKEI NISHIO – During WWII, when 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their West Coast homes and incarcerated in ten desolate American concentration camps, a group of local Quakers came up with an idea to show that Americans of Japanese descent were indeed loyal to the United States and should be allowed to return home. In September 1944, Esther Takei Nishio was 19-years-old when these Quakers-with the approval of the U.S. Military–summoned her from a concentration camp in Colorado to serve as a “test case” to see how the Pasadena community would react to a Japanese American in their midst. If Esther was accepted, they believed, it would open the door for other Japanese Americans to return. But when word of her return made front page news, Esther faced a firestorm of hatred, fear and intolerance as she attended school at Pasadena City College. One man formed a “Ban the Japs” committee. A little old lady saw her at a bus stop and spit on her one day, and slapped her across the face the next. Esther knew that she was representing her community, and her actions could determine whether they returned or not. And so she endured indignity with dignity and violence with non-violence. Hear her compelling story at Fred Korematsu Day in Pasadena!
> SUSIE LING – Associate Professor of History & Asian American Studies and history at Pasadena City College (PCC). She has been teaching Asian American studies continuously since 1971. PCC sponsors buses to Manzanar Pilgrimage each year. In 2010, PCC was proud to give honorary degrees to Nisei alumni who were unjustly incarcerated in 1942.
> ALAN NISHIO – Founding member of the NCRR (Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress founded in 1980) and currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors of the Little Tokyo Service Center, a community development corporation in Los Angeles. He retired after 34 years of service as Associate Vice President of Student Services, California State University.
> PATTY KINAGA – Pasadena resident Patty Kinaga specializes in employment litigation for over 20 years. Inspired by her father’s military service made a documentary film about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In April, her 6-year old daughter Emily sparked a star-studded “Thousand Hearts” Concert to benefit the victims of Japan’s earthquake/tsunami held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
> SOJI KASHIWAGI – Playwright and Executive Producer of the Grateful Crane Ensemble, a non-profit theater group. Pasadena resident who serves as a commissioner on the Pasadena Human Relations Commission, District 4. He has written numerous plays, articles, columns and essays on the Japanese American experience, many of which have focused on the WWII imprisonment of the Japanese American community.
> Through these efforts, we hope to encourage the educational system in Pasadena to teach curriculum that the Korematsu Institute has developed. Continue to educate Americans about the history of Americans of Japanese descent during WWII and of their internment experiences before, during and after the war. Spark more City Resolutions throughout Southern CA, in other States as well as develop a strong committee that will continue to advance activities to recognize Fred Korematsu Day
> FRED KOREMATSU – www.KorematsuInstitute.org
Fred 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 due to military necessity.
> In 1983, Prof. Peter Irons, a legal historian, together with researcher Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, discovered key documents that government intelligence agencies had hidden from the Supreme Court in 1944. The documents consistently showed that Japanese Americans had committed no acts of treason to justify mass incarceration. With this new evidence, a legal team of mostly Japanese American attorneys re-opened Korematsu’s 40 year-old case on the basis of government misconduct. 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.
> Korematsu remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton. In 2010, the state of California passed the Fred Korematsu Day bill, making January 30 the first day in the US named after an Asian American. Korematsu’s growing legacy continues to inspire activists of all backgrounds and demonstrates the importance of speaking up to fight injustice.
Taking some of the words that Yukio Kawaratani said at City Council on Jan 31, 2011 –
“Fred Korematsu challenged the Government all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decision held that military necessity outweighed Korematsu’s individual rights and the rights of all Americans of Japanese descent. Fred Korematsu is a hero and a symbol for all Americans to honor. he alerted us to be vigilant to the continuing legal concept that the government can suspend civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and discriminate and take action against any group or organization of people on the basis of military necessity.”