Pasadena Unified to Co-Host Commemoration of Fred Korematsu Day

Published : Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | 1:40 PM

The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) will co-host a commemoration of Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution at Pasadena High School on Saturday, Jan. 31 beginning at 8 a.m.

Fred T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero who was convicted of refusing to go to the U.S. government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans when the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. Mr. Korematsu continued fighting this injustice and eventually the U.S. government overturned his conviction. Korematsu’s growing legacy continues to inspire people of all backgrounds and demonstrates the importance of speaking up to fight injustice. The State of California declared January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in 2010.

This year’s commemoration event will feature World War II stories of Pasadena area families. The stories provide a unique look at history in a compelling and heartfelt glimpse of what life was like for Americans of Japanese descent that were labeled as enemies of the United States:

· Steve Nagano narrates the story of Chiyomi & Kaz Ogawa (residents of Altadena/Pasadena) and their three children who attended Pasadena High School. As told by Chiyomi, her family was in Japan as Chiyomi was sent there for high school and it was her graduation when the war broke out and they were desperate to leave Japan, the ‘enemy’ country to come back to America. Hear the story of how she got back to the USA, how she met her husband and married while in the Manzanar Camp.

· Pasadena artist and M*A*S*H* TV co-star Kellye Nakahara Wallett shares the story of her grandfather Buntaro Nakahara. Buntaro, a fisherman, was arrested when the US government thought he was providing fuel to submarines at Pokai Bay Wainae. He was sent to the Santa Fe New Mexico Detention Camp, where he died. The family still does not know where he is buried. Find out the unusual circumstances of this camp and his death.

· Altadena resident Ellen Snortland shares the experience of a most unusual find in her rental home, a photo album which belonged to a Japanese American family that included photos from one of the camps. Find out how legendary columnist “Dear Abby” was instrumental in Ellen’s search to find the family.

· Pasadena resident Wendy Fujihara Anderson tells the story of her parents, Tadashi & Harumi Fujihara, who were both incarcerated at Manzanar but did not know each other until after the war ended. Haru attended Manzanar High School where she was Homecoming Queen and graduated the year the war ended. Tad was an artist who helped carve the now-infamous Manzanar Sign that was posted at the entrance to the camp. After both their families relocated to Pasadena, Tad and Haru met and married, with Haru wearing “Chiyomi’s Wedding Dress”. Find out which Pasadena museum has a glimpse of their life at the “Mystery History” Exhibit.

· Soji Kashiwagi, Pasadena resident, journalist, playwrite, producer and Executive Producer of the Grateful Crane Ensemble shares the courage of his father Hiroshi Kashiwagi who was incarcerated at Tule Lake after taking a stand as a “No-No Boy”. Find out what caused someone to be labeled a “No-No Boy” and the personal freedom it cost.

· Pasadena resident and attorney Patricia Kinaga tells the story of her father, Thomas Kinaga who was interned in Heart Mountain, Wyoming when army recruiters asked for volunteers to join the segregated 442 Regimental Combat Team. He was one of the first to step forward, and became a seasoned soldier in the battlefields. Find out how his 442nd service shaped his life.

Fred Korematsu Day Civil Liberties and the Constitution Event will be held on Saturday, January 31, 2015

8:00 a.m. Six Weddings & A Dress Exhibition, art activities for children and internment camp photo exhibit
9:00 a.m. Kodama Taiko Drummers
9:15 a.m. Program begins

Location: Pasadena High School, 2925 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena

Parking available in front of school off of Sierra Madre Blvd (Pasadena Farmers Market also taking place that morning in front of the school) and in rear of school off of Washington Blvd. Parking and admission are free.

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