WASHINGTON - Californians celebrated the first Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties this past weekend. The Nations Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) joins the state of California in celebrating the life and legacy of Fred Korematsu and applauds California's leadership for adopting this day of remembrance and learning. Fred Korematsu is the first Asian Pacific American to be honored with a day of recognition in California.
Then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California Assembly Bill 1775 into law on September 23, 2010. The bill established January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties. The law encourages all schools across the state to educate students about Korematsu's struggle for constitutional freedom, especially in times of crisis.
"The establishment of the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties is a truly historic moment," states Paul O. Hirose, President of NAPABA. "By establishing this day, California recognizes the impact that one person can have in bringing forth equality for an entire community, and the need for all of us to continue to remember and live these lessons today. As the child of parents and grandparents who were interned during World War II, I am particularly moved by this, and I hope that all states will one day follow the lead of California and recognize this great man."
During World War II, Korematsu refused to be interned and was convicted of violating military orders. Korematsu appealed his conviction in what would be the landmark case of Korematsu v. United States. The court held that his arrest and internment were justified in order to protect national security. Decades later in 1983, the case was re-opened and his conviction was overturned.
NAPABA celebrates this distinguished day and encouraged everyone to remember Fred Korematsu and his fight for justice.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 63 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.