This year's recipients come from a variety of interests, disciplines and causes, including civil rights icon Gordon Hirabayashi, one of three individuals who openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. He died earlier this year. From the White House press release:
Gordon HirabayashiThe Presidential Medal of Freedom will be presented at the White House in late spring. Here's some more information on the award and all the recipients: President Obama Names Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients.
Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he refused the order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory. Consequently, he was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle of defying the exclusion order and violating curfew. Hirabayashi appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1943. Following World War II and his time in prison, Hirabayashi obtained his doctoral degree in sociology and became a professor. In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Hirabayashi died on January 2, 2012.