Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

“Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice” by Lorraine K. Bannai

BANENDEnduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice by Lorraine K. Bannai, is hot off the University of Washington Press and can be purchased here for $34.95.

Fred Korematsu’s decision to resist F.D.R.’s Executive Order 9066, which provided authority for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, was initially the case of a young man following his heart: he wanted to remain in California with his white fiancée. However, he quickly came to realize that it was more than just a personal choice; it was a matter of basic human rights.

After refusing to leave for incarceration when ordered, Korematsu was eventually arrested and convicted of a federal crime before being sent to the internment camp at Topaz, Utah.

He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, which, in one of the most infamous cases in American legal history, upheld the wartime orders. Forty years later, in the early 1980s, a team of young attorneys resurrected Korematsu’s case. This time, Korematsu was victorious, and his conviction was overturned, helping to pave the way for Japanese American redress.

Lorraine K. Bannai

Lorraine K. Bannai

Lorraine Bannai, who was a young attorney on that legal team, combines insider knowledge of the case with extensive archival research, personal letters, and unprecedented access to Korematsu his family, and close friends. She uncovers the inspiring story of a humble, soft-spoken man who fought tirelessly against human rights abuses long after he was exonerated. In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

LORRAINE K. BANNAI is director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality and professor of legal skills at Seattle University School of Law.
Kathryn and Fred Korematsu sit in a bench dedicated to JFK Jr. in a courtyard adjacent to the NYU Law School Auditorium in April, 2000. Photo by Lia Chang

Kathryn and Fred Korematsu sit in a bench dedicated to JFK Jr. in a courtyard adjacent to the NYU Law School Auditorium in April, 2000. Photo by Lia Chang

“Wonderful! A moving portrait of a seemingly ordinary man, motivated by love, whose passionate resistance transformed him into Fred Korematsu – an icon of the Japanese American Redress movement, and a true defender of American liberties.”
-Lane Hirabayashi, coauthor of A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States

“A remarkable story of a man who stood up and spoke out in the same tradition of others in this country who have spoken out against oppression and discrimination. This is what makes America strong – people who have faith in our ideals and who have the guts to stand up for them. Fred Korematsu was an ordinary man who did extraordinary deeds and with that he made history.”
-George Takei, actor and activist

Enduring Conviction brilliantly tells the story of an ordinary American with extraordinary courage. Lorraine Bannai has given us the best biography of a litigant in a famous – and infamous – Supreme Court case that has yet been written.”
-Peter Irons, author of Justices at War: The Story of the Japanese American Cases

“Bannai unravels, like an engaging novel, the story of Fred Korematsu, the wrongs he endured, and the fortitude he demonstrated. A quiet and modest citizen who thought he’d lost his country, Korematsu and his courage give hope to the rest of us – that we too can stand up to right injustice.”
-Linda Tamura, author of Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence

“Lorraine Bannai had a frontline position in the struggle for Japanese American inclusion, and her telling of one man’s story is so much more than that. She shows that in times of crisis, the appeal of authoritarian, scapegoating rhetoric is a menace to democracy. The Korematsu story is about fighting back against fear and hate, thereby holding our nation to its highest ideals.”
-Mari Matsuda, author of Where is Your Body?: Essays on Race, Gender and the Law

At its annual convention at the Los Angeles Hilton and Towers in 1993, APALA honored four pioneers in the crusade for Asian American civil rights. (L-R) Jesse Jackson Jr., David Trask, Jr., a noted Hawaiian labor leader, Yuri Kochiyama, a peace and community activist from New York who died in 2014, Fred Korematsu, the civil rights proponent who called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II who died in 2005; Jesse Jackson; Frank Atonio, who brought forward a complaint in the important labor discrimination case known as Wards Cove, and Kent Wong, APALA’s first president. Photo by Lia Chang

At its annual convention at the Los Angeles Hilton and Towers in 1993, APALA honored four pioneers in the crusade for Asian American civil rights. (L-R) Jesse Jackson Jr., David Trask, Jr., a noted Hawaiian labor leader, Yuri Kochiyama, a peace and community activist from New York who died in 2014, Fred Korematsu, the civil rights proponent who called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II who died in 2005; Jesse Jackson; Frank Atonio, who brought forward a complaint in the important labor discrimination case known as Wards Cove, and Kent Wong, APALA’s first president. Photo by Lia Chang

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachang.com

 

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