Korematsu, Fred, 1919-2005

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Fred Korematsu was born in 1919, in Oakland, Calif., and lived there with his Issei (first generation) parents, who operated a nursery. He and his three brothers lived in Oakland until the spring of 1942, when he and approximately 110,000 other American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry were ordered to leave their West Coast homes and report for internment. Mr. Korematsu refused to leave the community in which he grew up and was arrested on May 30, 1942. He was tried and convicted in Federal Court. In a landmark case, the United States Supreme Court upheld his conviction and held that the military orders removing Japanese Americans from the West Coast were lawful under the United States Constitution. Mr. Korematsu's case stood for over forty years as constitutional validation of one of the most egregious deprivations of civil rights in modern United States history. In 1981, a number of documents were found which proved that the United States government suppressed, altered, and destroyed material evidence during its prosecution of Mr. Korematsu's case. Based on these documents, Mr. Korematsu, represented by a team of young lawyers, filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, an obscure legal proceeding which allows a criminal defendant to challenge his conviction based on manifest injustice. Mr. Korematsu's petition was granted, and his conviction was vacated in a decision that helped remove the scar on the Constitution caused by the original Supreme Court case and helped heal the wounds inflicted on an entire community of people. Mr. Korematsu lived in Northern California until his passing on March 30, 2005. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn, and his two children, Karen and Ken Korematsu. From the guide to the Fred T. Korematsu v. United States, Coram Nobis, Litigation collection, 1942-1988, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn East West Research Files, 1967-1989 University of California, Berkeley. The Ethnic Studies Library.
referencedIn The Fred T. Korematsu v. United States coram nobis litigation collection, 1942-1988. University of California, Los Angeles
referencedIn United States v. Korematsu (Federal District Court Case) United States. National Archives and Records Administration National Archives at San Francisco
referencedIn Fred T. Korematsu v. United States, Coram Nobis, Litigation collection, 1942-1988 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Topaz War Relocation Center UT US
Oakland CA US


Birth 1919-01-30

Death 2005-03-30


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