On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: Korematsu v. United States

This time On the Road at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting, host Kareem Aref speaks with founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute Karen Korematsu about her father’s landmark case, Korematsu v. United States. Karen explains that the case challenged the military orders and the constitutionality of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II and that In 1983 evidence was found that proved there was no military necessity for the internment. She recalls growing up in Oakland, California, being blamed for the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the bullying and discrimination she and her brother suffered because they were Asian American. It was not until she studied U.S. history as a junior in high school that she was made aware of the Korematsu v. United States case and her father’s 1944 Supreme Court hearing. Karen compares the societal attitude of her youth to the political climate of today and discusses the recent evocation by a Virginia mayor of Roosevelt’s 1942 Executive Order 9066 during his call for area governments and nongovernmental agencies to suspend and delay any further assistance to Syrian refugees. She closes the interview with examples of how her organization fights bigotry through education and her thoughts on what we can do today to avoid the mistakes of the past.

Karen Korematsu is the founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and the daughter of the late Fred T. Korematsu. In 2009, on the 25th anniversary of the reversal of Fred’s WWII U.S. Supreme Court conviction, Karen established the Fred T. Korematsu Institute.  In May 2013, Karen became executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and led its transition in July 2014 to become an independent organization fiscally sponsored by Community Initiatives.