Karen Korematsu
A Visit To Palo Alto High School--May 1, 2012

Audio Recording of Karen Korematsu


Karen Korematsu came to Palo Alto High School to discuss her father's legacy and provide a unique glimpse into what it was like being shunned by the Japanese community after the American Government took Mr. Korematsu's constitutionally-protected rights away. Ms. Korematsu gave attendees the "Korematsu Quiz," shattering a few myths along the way.  She discussed her own childhood and how much shame and insulation existed, with one generation trying to protect the other from the past.  That all changed when it was discovered that the Supreme Court had been lied to in 1944. In 1983, these lies were exposed and the case was reversed, though not expunged.

As recently as May 20, 2011, Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Kaytel issued an unprecedented statement saying that "The United States Department of Justice made "mistakes" in the Japanese American incarceration cases:

"...the Ringle Report, from the Office of Naval Intelligence, found that only a small percentage of Japanese Americans posed a potential security threat, and that the most dangerous were already known or in custody.  But the Solicitor General did not inform the (Supreme) Court of the report, despite warnings from Department of Justice attorneys that failing to alert the Court "might approximate the  suppression of evidence."  Instead, (the Solicitor) argued that it was impossible to segregate loyal Japanese Americans from disloyal ones."

Even FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover determined that the Japanese posed no threat.

The photos below were brought by Karen and displayed during her talk.






I have now had the pleasure of meeting both Fred Korematsu, on March 5th, 1994 at the dedication of the Japanese-American Internment Memorial in San Jose, and his daughter Karen, during her visit to Palo Alto High School on May 1, 2012.
Deeply moving experiences both, what I can take away from the encounters it that is critical to speak up when in the presence of injustice.

What was done to Fred Korematsu was on account of race, absent political justification, and should not happen again.  As President Clinton has said, ..."the Korematsu name is synonymous with that of Plessy, Brown, and Parks." 




Click Here to download a photomontage made by Dorothea Lange of the Tanforan Assembly Center.

Take The Korematsu Quiz

  • Why was Fred Korematsu arrested?
  • What was his occupation when he was arrested?
  • Where was he taken?
  • Was the Supreme Court's ruling unanimous?
  • What happened to Mr. Korematsu after the war concluded?