Fred Korematsu, an American civil rights pioneer, resisted the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.
Born in 1919 to Japanese immigrants in Oakland, he was renamed Fred by a teacher for simplicity. In 1941, after the Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S. heightened suspicions towards Japanese Americans.
Despite no evidence of Japanese American disloyalty, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942, leading to their forceful relocation.
Korematsu, considering himself an American, defied the order and even altered his identification.
Arrested and imprisoned, he met ACLU attorney Ernest Besig, who took his case to the Supreme Court. However, the Court upheld Korematsu’s conviction in 1944.
In 1981, Peter Irons discovered the government had provided falsified information in Korematsu’s original case.
Korematsu’s conviction was vacated in 1983 after a retrial. Although the original Supreme Court decision remains, Korematsu worked tirelessly for Japanese American rights.
He played a pivotal role in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
Fred Korematsu Day is celebrated annually on January 30th in California.
Let’s dive into some of the most popular quotes by Fred Korematsu.
Top 5 Fred Korematsu Quotes
I was the third son, and the family tradition was my dad always favoured the oldest child. ~ Fred Korematsu.
One person can make a difference, even if it takes forty years. ~ Fred Korematsu.
It may take time to prove you’re right, but you have to stick to it. ~ Fred Korematsu.
As a citizen of the United States, I am ready, willing, and able to bear arms for this country. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I don’t even know how it is to have a home. I feel like an orphan or something. ~ Fred Korematsu.
Powerful Fred Korematsu Quotes
I’m Asian, so they assumed I’m not an American and that I come from Japan. Restaurants would refuse to serve me, and places would refuse to give you a haircut. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I was very upset because I did not have a fair trial to prove my loyalty to this country. ~ Fred Korematsu.
Every day in school, we said the pledge to the flag, ‘with liberty and justice for all,’ and I believed all that. ~ Fred Korematsu.
No one should ever be locked away simply because they share the same race, ethnicity, or religion as a spy or terrorist. If that principle was not learned from the internment of Japanese Americans, then these are very dangerous times for our democracy. ~ Fred Korematsu.
If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I was just living my life, and that’s what I wanted to do. ~ Fred Korematsu.
Famous Fred Korematsu Quotes
Before the war, my parents were very proud people. They’d always talk about Japan and also about the samurai and things like that. Right after Pearl Harbor, they were just real quiet. They kept to themselves; they were afraid to talk about what could happen. I assume they knew that nothing good would come out of it. ~ Fred Korematsu.
My folks were so worried about what they were going to do. All they can take was what they could carry with their hands. What they had for twenty-five years of building their business was going to go out the door, or they’re going to lose it. ~ Fred Korematsu.
All of them turned their backs on me at that time because they thought I was a troublemaker. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I was an American citizen, and I had as many rights as anyone else. ~ Fred Korematsu.
That was it – I lost my job… I was very discouraged. I wanted to be in defense work… I’m an American, and I have nothin’ to do with Japan, and so it’s sort of an insult to me. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I still remember, 40 years ago, when I was shackled and put in prison… Being an American citizen didn’t mean a thing. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I thought what the military was doing was unconstitutional. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I didn’t think that the government would go as far as to include American citizens to be interned without a hearing. ~ Fred Korematsu.
Best Fred Korematsu Quotes
I’ll never forget my government treating me like this. And I really hope that this will never happen to anybody else because of the way they look, if they look like the enemy of our country. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I lost everything when they put us in prison. I was an enemy alien, a man without a country. ~ Fred Korematsu.
If anyone should do any pardoning. I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I was born in the U.S. This is my country. ~ Fred Korematsu.
I was really upset because I was branded as an enemy alien when I’m an American. ~ Fred Korematsu.
It takes a lot of money to hire an attorney. ~ Fred Korematsu.
During the curfew, whoever went out, the people were watching you. Any Japanese home, there was some person figuring he’s a good American citizen by doing his duty, and they were watching every move each family were doin’. Or if they went out, they followed them to see where they were goin’. ~ Fred Korematsu.
So these were the 27 famous quotes about Fred Korematsu.