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Dale Minami, Esq. Speaks about Korematsu Case at City Club Cleveland

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In November, 2016, we attended a City Club forum in which Ms. Karen Korematsu spoke of the injustices suffered by her father, Mr. Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American who was one of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans interned during World War II due to Executive Order 9066 issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As we know, Mr. Korematsu legally fought the internments claiming them to be a violation of civil rights and due process, but unfortunately, the legality of the internment order was upheld in the Korematsu vs. United States U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1944.

On May 23, 2018, we attended another City Club forum closely related to this subject, in which the guest speaker was Mr. Dale Minami, the widely respected attorney who was instrumental in getting the Korematsu decision vacated in 1983. We got to visit with Mr. Minami both before and after his speech, and found him to be a very direct, down-to-earth person with whom we could easily talk. What's more, he was given a glowing introduction by Ms. Barbara Lum from the Asian American Bar Association. We urge our readers to review his biography as well as a social justice website he established, stoprepeatinghistory.org.

We were quite proud that Margaret W. Wong and Associates LLC supported this event by hosting a table. As a bonus, we got to hear two students from Hathaway Brown read essays that won them prizes in the Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest. The subject matter was the right of students to protest controversial speakers while they were actually speaking on campus, thus threatening to drown out those they don't agree with, and the very creditable young writers were Miss Shruthi Ravichandran and Miss Alison Xin, both from Hathaway Brown School. 

During the course of his presentation, Mr. Minami reviewed the details of the Korematsu case as well as the cases of Mr. Gordon Hirabayshi and Mr. Minoru Yasui, who also had cases challenging the internment camps which were widely supported at the time due to "racial prejudice, war hysteria, and lack of leadership" according to Mr. Minami. He was especially concerned that we learn from our past mistakes, particularly at the time concerning the tendentious travel bans placed by the Trump administration upon countries that are predominantly Muslim. Of special concern is the fact that the Trump administration is demanding complete deference from the courts on this issue, and there will be no checks and balances.

All told, Mr. Minami presented a very compelling case, which we urge our readers to watch in its entirety. Along these lines, we were really struck by what Mr. Minami said, which was "Civil rights are not gifts but challenges," and it is our responsibility to cherish them and carefully monitor our government so they will not be violated.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC