Half Moon Bay’s Coastside Film Society: Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story on March 18, 2011
March 2011 — Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story
Of Civil Wrongs and Rights is a documentary about the life of a California boy born and raised in hills of Oakland. It’s a fascinating tale from long ago that deals with the same issues of presidential power, civil rights and national security that are so newsworthy today.
It is a quiet day in 1942. A shy 23-year-old welder named Fred Korematsu is having a quiet picnic with his Italian-American girlfriend when he discovers the U.S. government had big plans for him. Because Korematsu’s parents were born in Japan, he is being ordered to report to an internment camp. Korematsu refuses, moves to the Midwest, and resorts to minor plastic surgery to look less Japanese. But in those days a Japanese-American is treated with just as much suspicion as a bursa-wearing Iraqi-American might encounter today. Korematsu is quickly captured and swiftly convicted of the felony of violating a military order. Korematsu fights his conviction all the way to Supreme Court. He loses his final appeal in December of 1944.
Jump forward 39 years. A San Diego professor discovers that the evidence presented to the Supreme Court in Korematsu’s case had been falsified. Korematsu’s life is thrown back into disarray. By 1983 Korematsu’s conviction has been reversed. President Clinton awards Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. And let’s not forget that here in California, Jan. 30 is now celebrated as the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution,” celebrating the life of one of our greatest civil rights leaders.
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