The Legacy of Japanese Prison Camps in the U.S.

Panel Discussion on Korematsu v. United States


The Center for American Studies, a JMC partner program, will host a panel titled “Korematsu v. United States: The History and Legacy of the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Cases.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018 • 6:15PM
Butler Library, Room 523 • Columbia University

In 1943 and 1944 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the military orders that forced over 120,000 Japanese Americans into American prison camps during World War II. It took almost 40 years to overturn the convictions of Fred Korematsu and others who violated the orders with the “smoking gun” evidence of governmental misconduct.

American Studies faculty member Michael Hindus will moderate a discussion with Professor Peter Irons, the leader of Fred Korematsu’s 1983 legal team, and Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu and founder of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute.

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Professor Irons is the author of numerous books on the Supreme Court and constitutional litigation, including The New Deal Lawyers; Justice at War; The Courage of Their Convictions; Justice Delayed; May It Please the Court; Brennan Vs. Rehnquist: The Battle for the Constitution; and, most recently, A People’s History of the Supreme Court(1999) and Jim Crow’s Children: The Broken Promise of the Brown Decision (2002). He has also contributed to numerous law reviews and other journals. He was chosen in 1988 as the first Raoul Wallenberg Distinguished Visiting Professor of Human Rights at Rutgers University. He has been invited to lecture on constitutional law and civil liberties at the law schools of Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, Stanford, and more than twenty other schools. In addition to his academic work, Professor Irons has been active in public affairs. He is a practicing civil rights and liberties attorney, and was lead counsel in the 1980s in the successful effort to reverse the World War Two criminal convictions of Japanese-Americans who challenged the curfew and relocation orders. He was also elected to two terms on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Karen KorematsuKaren 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.

Since her father’s passing in 2005, Karen has carried on Fred’s legacy as a civil rights advocate, public speaker and public educator. She shares her passion for social justice and education at K-12 public and private schools, colleges and universities, law schools, teachers’ conferences and organizations across the country.

One of Karen’s most significant accomplishments was working with Assembly Member Warren Furutani to successfully establish in 2011 a perpetual “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution” for the state of California on January 30. Fred Korematsu is the first Asian American in U.S. history who has been honored with a statewide day.

Learn more about Karen Korematsu >>

Michael Hindus photoMichael Hindus is an energy partner in the international law firm, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, with a practice focusing on renewable energy and state and federal energy regulation.  He graduated from Columbia College in 1968 with a major in History, studying with James P. Shenton, Walter Metzger and David Rothman.  While at Columbia he participated in the Double Discovery Program from 1966-1968.  Mr. Hindus received his MA and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, taught at the University of Minnesota, and published two books in American History before turning to law.  He graduated from Harvard Law School cum laude in 1979.

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