Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice (Contents Page, Preface, and Prologue)
University of Washington Press (October 2015, Forthcoming)
11 Pages Posted: 20 May 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2015
In Enduring Conviction, Lorraine Bannai tells the story of Fred Korematsu, a 22-year-old welder in Oakland, California, who challenged military orders that culminated in the incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. In 1944, the Supreme Court, in one of its most infamous decisions, affirmed his conviction, accepting the government’s claim that its actions were justified by military necessity.
Forty year later, Mr. Korematsu reopened his case and challenged his conviction on proof that the government suppressed, altered, and destroyed material evidence that refuted its claim of military necessity; the wartime incarceration was based, he argued, not on any threat of sabotage, but instead on race prejudice. After gaining the vacation of his conviction, Mr. Korematsu went on to travel the country to speak about his case. For his work and what he came to symbolize, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
Setting Mr. Korematsu’s extraordinary life in the context of a social, political, and legal history of Japanese Americans, the book illuminates not only his decision to resist and his ultimate vindication, but also this community’s struggle to overcome discrimination rooted in ignorance and fear and to obtain redress for the wrong inflicted upon it. It further explores ways in which the wartime incarceration and Korematsu case have had disturbing continued relevance as the country continues to grapple with issues of race, stereotyping, and the extent to which it must sacrifice civil liberties in the name of national security.
The book draws on archival research, including Mr. Korematsu’s wartime letters; interviews of those who knew him; and the author’s work on the legal team that represented Mr. Korematsu in reopening his case.
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Keywords: Korematsu, Mass incarceration, Internment, Japanese Americans, Supreme Court, Discrimination, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, War on Terror, Race, National Origin, Reparations
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