SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proclaimed Jan. 30, 2018 as Fred Korematsu Day in California. He gave the following statement:
Fred Korematsu (1919-2005) was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“When Fred T. Korematsu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, President Bill Clinton said that ‘in the long history of our country’s constant search for justice, some names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls — Plessy, Brown, Parks. To that distinguished list today we add the name of Fred Korematsu.’
“Fred Korematsu was, in the best sense of both words, an ordinary hero. A native Californian, born and raised in Oakland and a welder by trade, he simply refused to accept his government’s order to relocate under the brutal and misguided policy of Japanese American internment during World War II.
“Korematsu’s staunch determination to be treated like the loyal American citizen he was came to define his life story, in both his decades-long legal battle against internment and his later recognition as a leader in the cause of civil rights.
“On this 99th anniversary of his birth, we remember him as one who resisted injustice during a dark chapter in our nation’s history, and later worked tirelessly to prevent its repetition.”
Korematsu’s case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1944. But nearly 40 years later, his case was reopened on the basis of new evidence of governmental misconduct, and his conviction for violating Executive Order 9066 was vacated. He continued to educate the public about the Japanese American wartime experience and its connection to current civil rights issues until his death in 2005 at the age of 86.