Karen Korematsu To Speak At 44th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage

PILGRIMAGE: Bus transportation from Los Angeles is still available, but seats are going fast.

Karen Korematsu.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Carlo de la Cruz. Courtesy Karen Korematsu/Fred T. Korematsu Institute

LOS ANGELES — Karen Korematsu, co-founder of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, will be the featured speaker at the 44th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, scheduled for noon PDT on Saturday, April 27, 2013, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located on U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles (see map below).

Each year, over 1,000 people from diverse backgrounds, including students, teachers, community members, clergy and former incarcerees attend the Pilgrimage, which commemorates the unjust imprisonment of over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in ten American concentration camps located in the most desolate, isolated regions of the United States, during World War II. Manzanar was the first of these camps to be established.

This year’s Pilgrimage will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted redress to Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes during World War II, or their immediate family.

“Many factors led to the historic victory that the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 represents for our community, and our nation,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “There can be no doubt that the struggle for redress and reparations began almost as soon as Executive Order 9066 was signed on February 19, 1942.”

“Over the decades, there were key events and individuals that served to lay the foundation, and set the stage for the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988,” added Embrey. “One of those individuals was Fred Korematsu.”

Fred T. Korematsu was one of four men who defied Executive Order 9066, which established the American concentration camps, and ordered that Japanese Americans on the West Coast be forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated during World War II. His 1944 landmark case before the United States Supreme Court challenged the constitutionality of the mass incarceration, but the Court upheld his conviction for violating the exclusion order in a 6-3 ruling.

39 years later, during the Japanese American community’s fight for redress and reparations, evidence was uncovered that the War Department had altered, falsified and destroyed evidence that showed that government knew that there was no military necessity for the incarceration, despite the War Department’s claims to the contrary. As such, on November 10, 1983, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco vacated Korematsu’s conviction.

“While Fred Korematsu is most famous for standing up for his rights and beliefs in his court cases, we must remember his resistance to Executive Order 9066 began before the forced removal of the Japanese American community was underway,” Embrey noted. “We’re honored that his daughter, Karen, has agreed to participate in this year’s Pilgrimage.”

In 2009, Karen Korematsu co-founded the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education at the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, California. The Institute, which advances pan-ethnic civil and human rights through education, develops and distributes 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. They also promote Fred Korematsu Day community involvement through school curriculum, community events, and they host RightsFest, an annual pan-ethnic civil rights film festival.

Since 2005, Karen has carried on her father’s legacy as a civil rights advocate, and by speaking at public and private schools and universities, law schools and organizations. In 2012, she signed onto the amicus brief for Hedges v. Obama, challenging the potential infringements on constitutional rights violations of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“Karen’s educational work, and her efforts to defend civil rights through the Korematsu Institute, are exemplary,” said Embrey. “We’re pleased to be able to put the spotlight on her work at the Pilgrimage.”

The afternoon program, held at the Manzanar cemetery site, will begin with a performance by UCLA Kyodo Taiko, the first collegiate taiko group in North America. It will conclude with the traditional interfaith service, and Ondo dancing.

In addition to the daytime program, the Manzanar At Dusk program follows that same evening, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 South Main Street (US Highway 395), in Lone Pine, nine miles south of the Manzanar National Historic Site, across the street from McDonald’s (see map below).

Manzanar At Dusk is co-sponsored by the Cal State Long Beach Nikkei Student Union, the Cal Poly Pomona Nikkei Student Union, the UCLA Nikkei Student Union, and the UCSD Nikkei Student Union.

Through a creative presentation, small group discussions and an open mic session, Manzanar At Dusk participants will have the opportunity to learn about the experiences of those incarcerated in the camps. Participants will also be able to interact with former incarcerees in attendance to hear their personal stories, to share their own experiences, and discuss the relevance of the concentration camp experience to present-day events and issues.

The Manzanar Committee has also announced that seats are going fast on their bus to the Pilgrimage from Downtown Los Angeles.

The bus will depart at 7:00 AM, arriving at the Pilgrimage at approximately 11:30 AM, and will also take participants to the Interpretive Center at the Manzanar National Historic Site following the afternoon program. The bus should arrive back in Los Angeles at approximately 8:30 PM.

Bus reservations are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information or to make a reservation, call (323) 662-5102, or send e-mail to 44thpilgrimage@manzanarcommittee.org. The non-refundable fare is $40.00 per seat.

Those wishing to attend the Manzanar At Dusk program that evening should make other transportation arrangements.

Pilgrimage participants are advised bring their own lunch, drinks and snacks as there are no facilities to purchase food at the Manzanar National Historic Site (restaurants and fast food outlets are located in Lone Pine and Independence). Water will be provided at the site.

Both the daytime program and the Manzanar At Dusk event are free and open to the public.

For more information, call (323) 662-5102, send e-mail to 44thpilgrimage@manzanarcommittee.org, or check the Manzanar Committee’s official blog at http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org.

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The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and YouTube.

Manzanar National Historic Site

 

Lone Pine High School

 


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