How can you help make the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution Bill a reality?
By sending letters to the Senate for this legislation, sponsored by Assemblymember Warren T. Furutani (D – South Los Angeles County), and first presented at a hearing on May 5, to recognize January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.
In 1942, Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu, challenged Executive Order 9066, a mandate issued by President Roosevelt that imprisoned Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II all the way to the Supreme Court, and lost. The wrongful conviction of Fred Korematsu, which was overturned forty years after he was convicted and his appeal denied, is the substance and the context of the bill. This legislation recognizes the importance of preserving civil liberties and the Constitution no matter the extenuating circumstances.
On June 30, the Fred Korematsu Day bill passed in the California Senate Education Committee with a unanimous vote of 8-0. This follows unanimous votes in the Assembly Education Committee (8-0) and Assembly Floor (69-0) in May.
“AB 1775 serves as a vehicle to remind us of the importance of actively preserving civil liberties and the guarantees of the United States Constitution,” said Assemblymember Furutani. “The incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent did not happen in ancient history; it happened less than seventy years ago. The decision to overturn his conviction in 1983 is a milestone for modern civil rights because it sends a message that even during times of real or perceived crisis, we must protect our fundamental civil liberties.”
During the hearing in May, Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu, and Ling Woo Liu, director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute of Civil Rights and Education at the Asian Law Caucus, testified in support of the legislation.
“My father’s experiences around the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and his subsequent redemption shape how we discuss civil liberties today,” said Ms. Korematsu. “Honoring my father on Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on his birthday keeps his legacy alive.”
Current law designates a number of days as having special significance, when public schools are encouraged to observe and conduct commemorative exercises. This bill encourages public schools and educational institutions to observe this day and conduct exercises remembering the life of Fred Korematsu and recognizing the importance of preserving civil liberties, even in times of real or perceived crisis.
AB 1775 will be heard on the Senate Floor in August, and hopefully move to the Governor’s desk in late August or early September. By sending in letters of support for this legislation which encourages educators to teach students about Fred Korematsu’s case and its relevance today, community backing will be reflected during the Senate Floor hearing in August.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letters can be faxed or emailed to:
Leilani Aguinaldo Yee
Assemblymember Warren Furutani’s office
List of Supporting Organizations:
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Civil Liberties Union
Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation
Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area
Asian American Justice Center
Asian Law Caucus
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Asian/Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento
Asian Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley
Central CA Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Council on American Islamic Relations – CA
Greater Los Angeles Chapter, San Diego Chapter
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Equal Justice Society
Filipino American Lawyers of San Diego
Filipino Bar Association of Northern California
Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy
Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education
Go For Broke National Education Center
Aggie Idemoto, Ed.D.
Japanese American Bar Association of Greater Los Angeles
Japanese American Citizens League (National)
Japanese American Citizens League, San Francisco Chapter
Japanese American Citizens League, Pacific Southwest District
Japanese American Citizens League, Watsonville-Santa Cruz Chapter
Japanese American Museum of San Jose
Japanese American National Museum
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern CA
Korean American Bar Association of Southern California
Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Orange County Asian American Bar Association
Organization of Chinese Americans (National)
Organization of Chinese Americans, Orange County
Organization of Chinese Americans, Greater Los Angeles
Organization of Chinese Americans, Silicon Valley
Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego
Philippine American Bar Association of Los Angeles
San Leandro Unified School District
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
Southwest Center for Asian Pacific American Law
Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s Asian Pacific American Law Students’ Association
Ventura County Asian American Bar Association
Assemblymember Warren T. Furutani (D-South Los Angeles County) represents the 55th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Carson, Harbor City and the Harbor Gateway, Lakewood, parts of Long Beach, and Wilmington
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