About Us

Our mission: The Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education advances pan-ethnic civil and human rights through education.

The Fred T. Korematsu Institute is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives.

What we do: The Korematsu Institute education programs include:

  • Curriculum: Developing and distributing FREE curriculum about Fred Korematsu’s story, the Japanese American incarceration, Asian American history, and current civil rights issues, to classrooms around the United States
  • Fred Korematsu Day: Promoting Fred Korematsu Day community involvement through school curriculum, community events, and support for bill legislation and resolutions around the country
  • Film Festival: Hosting RightsFest, an annual pan-ethnic civil rights film festival

Our history: The Asian Law Caucus, together with Karen Korematsu, the daughter of Fred Korematsu, co-founded the Korematsu Institute on April 30, 2009 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reversal of Korematsu’s conviction. The following year, the Institute played a major role in convincing the state of California to pass “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution,” the first day in US history named after an Asian American. Fred Korematsu Day is celebrated every January 30th, on Mr. Korematsu’s birthday.

About Fred: In 1942, twenty-three year-old Fred Korematsu refused to report to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. He was arrested and quickly convicted of defying the government’s unjust order, but decided to take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was denied his freedom by the nation’s highest court, which validated the wholesale imprisonment of Japanese American citizens on the basis of “military necessity.” In 1983-1984, the Asian Law Caucus was a key member of the legal team that re-opened Fred’s case and convinced a federal court to overturn his conviction. In the last decades of his life, Fred Korematsu continued to fight for Japanese American redress, and spoke out to protect the civil rights of Muslim and Arab Americans after 9/11. He remained an activist until his death in 2005. Fred’s life-long struggle for justice serves as a reminder of the need to protect civil liberties for all people (read more about Fred Korematsu here).