JAMESTOWN - The Robert H. Jackson Center welcomed Karen Korematsu, Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, for "A Conversation with Karen Korematsu" on Oct. 17.
The daughter of Fred Korematsu, an early civil rights activist who challenged a 1942 U.S. government internment order which required that Japanese Americans be forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated during World War II, Korematsu has carried on her father's legacy as a civil rights advocate, speaking to audiences throughout the United States. Joining the conversation was Joyce Sechler, a Bemus Point resident born during her parents' imprisonment in an American concentration camp.
Although the Supreme Court upheld (6-3) Fred Korematsu's conviction for violating the internment order during the 1944 landmark case Korematsu vs. United States, Justice Robert H. Jackson disagreed strongly. His dissenting opinion continues to be read today in law schools as a major definition of the rights of the individual versus the power of the government. Thirty-nine years later, in 1983, the U.S. District Court of Northern California vacated Fred Korematsu's conviction when evidence was uncovered that the War Department had altered, falsified and destroyed evidence which proved that the government knew there was no military necessity for the incarcerations.
Karen Korematsu, left, with Bemus Point resident Joyce Sechler.
The Korematsu Institute, co-founded by Korematsu in 2009, advances pan-ethnic civil and human rights through education and develops and distributes free curriculum about Fred Korematsu, Japanese American incarceration, Asian American history and current civil rights issues to U.S. classrooms. As such, Korematsu presented and distributed curricula and other classroom materials during a Jackson Center-sponsored Western New York Teacher Conference held earlier in the day.
Founded in 2001, the Robert H. Jackson Center advances the ideals of the late Justice Robert H. Jackson, a leading advocate of American democracy and justice, who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1941 to 1954. A former country lawyer in Chautauqua County, Jackson was the architect of the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.
The Center is located at 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown. Tours are available from 10 a.m. 2 p.m., MondaySaturday, or by appointment. For additional information about this and other events, contact the Jackson Center at 483-6646 or visit www.roberthjackson.org.