AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The Late Fred T. Korematsu

January 31st, 2011 | 3 comments | Posted by Diana

Lately, I keep only one business card in my wallet all the time (pictured, right). It was given to me at last year’s AAJA Conference by Ling Woo Liu, Director of the Korematsu Instutute for Civil Rights and Education. When a day is hitting me especially hard, an effort feeling overwhelmingly like an up-mountain climb, or I’m struggling to rustle up the conviction to fight against something that’s effed-up in this effed-up world (like we sometimes do on this blog), I pull out the wrinkled card and look at Korematsu’s warm, happy face, the Medal of Freedom on his neck, and the pride in his eyes.

I am reminded of a man who never hesitated to fight for what he knew in his heart was right–who didn’t back down even when his efforts were fruitless.

For those who aren’t familiar with his story…

A young Korematsu with family, third from left

An American-born citizen and Oakland resident, Korematsu resisted internment as a young man of 22, just four months after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. He fled to Nevada, but within months was caught on a street corner and arrested, then sent to an internment camp in Utah (a facility originally designed to board horses). Still, Korematsu didn’t waver. Two years later, he appealed his case with the help of the ACLU in 1944–and lost. Though he moved forward with his life (bearing the handicap of his conviction quietly), built a family from which he withheld the secret shame of his failed fight and imprisonment, he never shook the sense that what happened to him was wrong, nor let go of his desire to make things right. Finally, in 1983, with the aid of a historian and team of lawyers, he succeeded in getting his conviction overturned. He then committed the last years of his life to civil rights activism, with the goal to educate and remind.

When I met Ling and learned about the Korematsu Institute, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had not yet signed Fred Korematsu Day–the first day named after an Asian American in the history of the United States–into law. That happened on September 23 of last year.

Yesterday, Fred Korematsu Day was celebrated for the first time ever. And even though he is no longer alive to do so, Korematsu will always teach and remind us that fighting for what is right may never be easy, nor comfortable–but it isn’t comfort or ease that lights up a man’s eyes with pride. The truth, however, does.

[The Fred Korematsu Institute For Civil Rights And Education]
[LAT: A Civil Rights Hero Gets His Day]


Filed under:

3 Responses to “AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The Late Fred T. Korematsu”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jasmine Davila, Emerald. Emerald said: Ashamed I didn't take more time to reflect on this yesterday. RT@ DISGRASIAN AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Fred T. Korematsu [...]

  2. BusyDad says:

    He’s the hero I never knew I had. A great American indeed.

  3. [...] Disgrasian: AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The Late Fred T. Korematsu Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 5: Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

April 26th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Not all martials arts movies look same.

The cast of HBO's 'Girls'

Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 4: Was The HBO ‘Girls’ Controversy About Racism Or Sexism?

April 25th, 2013 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen

Girl talk.


Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 3, aka Hump Day: What To Do When Your Friend Likes Racist Music

April 24th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Should you dump a friend who likes racist stuff?

office space

Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 2: Workplace Segregation + A Little History Lesson

April 23rd, 2013 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen

Don’t hate, integrate.

I was trying to give Andrew bunny ears, but I ended up throwing an Asian peace sign instead. Yo, I think that's racist.

Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 1: Natural Hair

April 22nd, 2013 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

Wherein we take all of your racist questions. (Some of them, anyway.)

Photo by Lee-Jin Man/AP

Creepy Photo Of S. Korean Soldier Wielding Machine Gun In Front Of Laughing Children Kinda Sums Up Where We Are At This Juncture

April 18th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen



If North Korea Attacks Us, I Have Just One Favor To Ask God

April 5th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

North Korea is so hot right now.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 11.22.12 AM

Michelle Malkin Desperately Wants To Be Michelle Obama

February 28th, 2013 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen


Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 2.52.57 PM

Penn State Sorority Girls Will Work For Weed & Beer

December 5th, 2012 | 6 comments | Posted by Jen

Viva racism!


Intern Jasmine’s Links Of The Daysian: The Ass Pants & Butt-Rubbing Edition

November 30th, 2012 | 1 comment | Posted by jasmine

We here at DISGRASIAN™ are going to use our buying power to buy as many Samsung butt-rubbed phones as we can.


Things I Thought I’d Never See: A Dude Rapping In Korean At The American Music Awards

November 19th, 2012 | 3 comments | Posted by Jen

Gangnam Time? Hammer Style?


RIP Twinkies, RIP Name Asians Like To Call Other Asians Who Are Less Asian Than They Are

November 16th, 2012 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

How are we going to insult one another now?!