In today from the United Farm Workers:
The farm worker movement celebrates Sunday, January 27, as the Fred Korematsu Day “Heroes” Day, honoring his struggle for the civil rights of Japanese Americans. In 1942, after the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii during World War II, all Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps. Fred Korematsu bravely refused to be interned and, like Cesar Chavez, Korematsu fought against racism and inequality against his people.*
This Fred Korematsu Day also honors other Asian American heroes, including the Filipino American farm workers who began the Delano Grape Strike in September 1965, and then asked Cesar Chavez’s mostly Latino union to join their picket lines. The grape strike and boycott organized by the joint Filipino-Latino union struggle lasted five years and established the merged organization, the United Farm Workers, as the first successful farm workers union in U.S. history.
The Korematsu Institute is organizing the Fred Korematsu Day “Heroes” celebration on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco with a 1 p.m. VIP reception and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. program. Among the 16 overlooked American civil rights heroes who are being recognized is Larry Itliong, leader of the 1960s Filipino American farm workers union who also served as the No. 2 officer of the UFW until 1973.
The Cesar Chavez Foundation’s nine-station, four-state Radio Campesina educational radio network is airing a public service announcement educating its 500,000 daily listeners about Fred Korematsu and his courageous battle against discrimination. To learn more about Japanese American civil rights leader Fred Korematsu or for information about tickets to the Jan. 27 celebration log onto http://www.korematsuinstitute.org or call 415-848-7737.
Fred T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity.
In 1983, Dr. Peter Irons, a legal historian, discovered key documents that government intelligence agencies had hidden from the Supreme Court in 1944. The documents consistently showed that Japanese Americans had committed no acts of treason to justify mass incarceration. With this new evidence, a legal team of mostly Japanese American attorneys re-opened Korematsu’s 40 year-old case on the basis of government misconduct. On November 10, 1983, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in a federal court in San Francisco. It was a pivotal moment in civil rights history.
Korematsu remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton. Korematsu’s growing legacy continues to inspire activists of all backgrounds and demonstrates the importance of speaking up to fight injustice.”