CHICAGO – State Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago, put forth legislation on Wednesday that acknowledges the bravery of Fred T. Korematsu, an Asian American civil rights hero, who exhibited immense strength by standing up against the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The resolution declares January 30, 2017 Fred T. Korematsu Day in the State of Illinois.
“Fred Korematsu exhibited the type of courage that is needed in times of oppression, and his willingness to stand up for what is right is an inspiration to us all,” said Mah. “It is in that spirit of inspiration that we honor his legacy.”
In 1942, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps against their will. Fred T. Korematsu refused to be placed in one of these camps, at the age of 23, and was arrested. Korematsu appealed his case all the way up to the Supreme Court, where they upheld the ruling against him, claiming that the arrests were carried out in military necessity. In 1983, his case was overturned by a federal court after evidence that the government had hidden crucial documents pertaining to his case. In 1988, Korematsu, along with the others wrongfully imprisoned, received formal apologies from President Reagan. Mah sees this piece of legislation as a way to draw attention to the current hostile climate for immigrants living in America today and the need to remain vigilant in protecting our civil rights and civil liberties.
“It is my sincere hope that by remembering Korematsu, more will be inspired to stand up and do what is right in times of injustice,” said Mah. “Perhaps now more than ever, it is important that we stay vigilant in our resistance to prejudice.”
Mah is serving her first term in the Illinois General Assembly as State Representative of the 2nd District, which includes the Chicago neighborhoods of Pilsen, Chinatown, Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Brighton Park and Back of the Yards.