Arizona has officially joined 10 other states by announcing January 30th, Fred T. Korematu’s birthday, as the Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. The announcement of the holiday is particularly meaningful as it has come during AAPI Heritage Month. The date commemorates the injustices as a result of Japanese American held prison in incarceration camps during WWII.
Governor Doug Ducey signed Korematsu Day legislation on Thursday, May 15, 2021, according to the Arizona Republic. Senate Bill 1800, sponsored by Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Mesa, received bipartisan support and passed in both the Senate and House.
Fred Korematsu was an activist and survivor of Japanese American internment. The American government held over 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during WWII. This came as a result of government policies of fear and racism after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Korematsu was best known for fighting his relocation in court and later lobbying Washington D.C. to get reparations for survivors. In 1998 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. However, the occasion is still not considered a national or statewide holiday.
“It’s not a holiday, and that’s part of the problem,” Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute in San Francisco told KOLD News 13. “I want this day to not only honor my father, but as a point of education, and to focus on our civil liberties in the Constitution.”
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