On Saturday, October 22, 2011, Mary Chun, a social studies teacher at Waialua High & Intermediate School, attended a Korematsu teacher’s workshop at Aliiolani Hale, sponsored by the Judiciary History Center, the Hawai’i State Bar Association Civic Education Committee, the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the Hawaii Department of Education, Social Studies Program. She was particularly touched and inspired by a presentation given by Karen Korematsu, Fred’s daughter. The Saturday workshop was followed by a second component, also held at Aliiolani Hale. This component featured a video conference, broadcasts to DOE schools throughout the state, in which former acting US Solicitor General Neil Katyal spoke to a a group of students in Hawaii’s Supreme Courtroom about Korematsu v. the United States as well as Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
When Ms. Chun returned to her classroom, she and her students talked about the need for a Fred Korematsu Day in Hawaii. Her students were moved by Fred’s young age when he defied the internment order, and by the many injustices he faced throughout his life. Ms. Chun created a lesson plan to encourage her students to get involved in a present-day action. In February 2012, 40 students mailed letters to Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, encouraging him to establish a Fred Korematsu Day in Hawaii. To their surprise, the Governor answered their request on May 6, 2012 by issuing a proclamation declaring January 30, 2013 as Fred Korematsu Day in Hawaii. “This shows the power of grassroots organizing,” says Ms. Chun. “It shows that youth have the power to touch many people.”
Read Governor Abercrombie’s Fred Korematsu Day proclamation here.
The Fred Korematsu Day Hawaii Committee was launched during an initial planning meeting on June 8, 2012. The committee has expanded to include: Bob Buss, Mary Chun, Bev Creamer, Rosanna Fukuda, Carrie Fuller, Carole Hayashino, Judge Don Horowitz, David Kawamoto, Karen Korematsu, Judge Lillian Lim, Ling Woo Liu, Trisha Nakamura, Ruth Oh, Matt Shimura, Geoff Sogi, Tina Wang, Sharon Webb and Eric Yamamoto.
The inaugural Fred Korematsu Day Hawaii events, on January 30, 2013, are sponsored by: The Hawaii Fred Korematsu Day Committee; World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument; Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i; University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law; Fred Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice; Judiciary History Center; American Immigration Council; Japanese American Citizens League; Hawai’i Council for the Humanities; Hawai’i Department of Education, Social Studies Program; Hawai’i State Bar Association (HSBA), Civic Education Committee; Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights & Education; Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Seattle University Law School); the University of Hawai’i Center for Oral History; Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team; 442nd Veterans Club; Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project; and the American Jewish Committee.