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Fred Korematsu Day

Today -- and every January 30th from now on -- is officially recognized as "Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution" in California, the first time in U.S. history that an Asian-American has been so honored.

If you're asking, "Who's Fred Korematsu?" then take that as evidence of the way that this nation still has not dealt with one of its most shameful acts, the internment of 110,000 innocent people of Japanese ancestry during WWII. (As an aside, the Census Bureau provided the U.S. Secret Service with information to help with the round-up -- something to consider when deciding how much of your census form to complete.)

In 1942, 22-year-old welder Fred Korematsu refused to go gently along to a concentration camp, and was arrested. In 1944, in perhaps the most disgusting Supreme Court decision of the 20th century, his "disloyalty" conviction and confinement were upheld.

After fighting the power for over forty years, Korematsu finally won exoneration in 1983 when a federal judge overturned his conviction for resisting internment. In 1988 the U.S. government finally made an official apology to internees and made a (wholly inadequate) payment of $20,000 to each surviving victim.

In 1998, President Clinton bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Korematsu.


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