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Posted on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 4:47 p.m.

"Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story" at AADL

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

During World War II, 120,000 Japanese Americans, almost two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were forcibly relocated and interned in concentration camps by the United States government. The official reason was military necessity, but in reality it was a combination of racism, xenophobia, economic competition, frenzied public opinion, and fear. Fred Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066. He lost his case at the time, but the US Supreme Court decision was later reversed when it was discovered that the US government deliberately suppressed information and misled the US Supreme Court in 1944. This second decision paved the way to eventual apology and reparations for all internees. Fred Korematsu later won the US Congressional Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

After 65 years, the Korematsu case and the experience of the Japanese American internment is still relevant today because after 9/11, many people called for interning Arab Americans, again out of fear, racism, and xenophobia. The Japanese American community was the first to stand up for Arab Americans and say never again.

At the Ann Arbor District Library this Thursday, February 18, 6:30-8:30pm, followed by discussion with Lori Saginaw, her mom May Watanabe, and David Yamamoto. A great opportunity to hear about the camps directly from two internees who were there. This event also coincides with The National Day of Remembrance, the annual observance of the day that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, February 19, 1942.:

Film & Discussion: Of Civil Wrongs and Rights

This Emmy-winning documentary, Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story is the story of a forty-year legal fight to vindicate Fred Korematsu, a shipyard welder, who refused to obey an Executive Order sending thousands of Americans of Japanese ancestry into internment camps.

Discussion after the film will be led by May Watanabe, internee; David Yamamoto, internee; and Lori Saginaw, daughter of May Watanabe and third generation Japanese American. This event is for Grade 9-Adult, and is cosponsored by the UM Community Scholars Program.

Thursday, February 18 | 6:30-8:30 PM | Downtown Multi-Purpose Room | Grade9-Adult

The Ann Arbor District Library Downtown branch is located at 343 South Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at