Why we can’t forget the incarceration of thousands of Americans

On this day 74 years ago, then-President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the federal government to remove thousands of Japanese Americans and immigrants of Japanese ancestry from their communities to be incarcerated far from the homes and business they had built and maintained. More than 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. February 19 is observed as the Day of Remembrance.

On the anniversary of civil rights leader Fred Korematsu’s birthday, we reflected on the similarities between anti-Muslim rhetoric today and the anti-Japanese sentiment that lead up to incarceration. Our board member Karen Korematsu, Fred Korematsu’s daughter, penned a powerful piece today expanding on this connection and calling all Americans to “recommit to our collective responsibility to ensure that the lessons of history prevail over a repeat of history.”

For more reading and resources to commemorate this Day of Remembrance, here are our recommendations:

  • Karen Korematsu reminds us that times of crisis are when our Constitution's principles must hold their strongest
  • Advancing Justice | AAJC Board Member Taron K. Murakami talks about her experience seeing George Takei’s Allegiance as the great-granddaughter of a school teacher who was removed from Hawaii and placed in an internment camp in New Mexico
  • A “Digital Teach-In” available this week provides short videos and essays accompanied by thought-provoking questions to enable teaching the history and lessons of the incarceration to anyone who is interested

Fighting for civil rights for all and working to empower #AAPIs to participate in our democracy. Follow: @johncyangdc @tao_minnis @meganessaheb