Do you know about Fred Korematsu? His landmark Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States challenged the legality of the mass removal of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II, and is considered a milestone for modern civil rights.
Over half a century later in Utah -- the state where Korematsu was held at the Topaz internment camp -- Governor Gary Herbert will proclaim January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day, in honor of the civil rights hero: Utah governor to honor Topaz internee, Fred Korematsu.
The Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday passed a resolution supporting Herbert's proclamation. Jani Iwamoto, who stepped down from the County Council earlier this month, advocated for both.Fred Korematsu Day is January 30. To learn more about commemorations happening in your area this year, including the flagship Heroes Celebration in San Francisco, visit the Korematsu Institute website.
"He was an ordinary person who did something extraordinary," Iwamoto told the council Tuesday. "Heroes like this are not necessarily big sports heroes or politicians. They're ordinary individuals."
Korematsu's case had a lasting impact on basic rights, said Iwamoto, who knew Korematsu as a humble man who decades earlier resisted military orders that sent 120,000 Japanese-Americans living along the West Coast into internment camps.
"Fred just knew [internment] was wrong instinctively," said Iwamoto, who first met Korematsu when she was a California law student who witnessed a 1980s effort to overturn his conviction. "He just wanted to live his life and be an American citizen."