On September 18-20, the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) is hosting the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Central Regional Conference, which includes attorneys from eight states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin). MNAPABA has partnered with many in the legal and general communities to ensure a successful conference, including 28 sponsors and 40 panelists and speakers at this threeday conference.
The conference kicks off on Friday night with A Man of Quiet Bravery: A Re-Enactment of the Fred Korematsu Case with reflections from Karen Korematsu. Karen Korematsu is the Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, where she works tirelessly to make sure Americans don’t forget the Supreme Court decision that failed to protect the civil rights of her father and thousands of other Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.
This re-enactment is based on a play written by Peter Irons and adapted by Rick Shiomi, the Co-Artistic Director of the Full Circle Theater Company in Minnesota. The reenactment participants include an impressive representation of local judges and attorneys, including judges from Minnesota District Court, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Minnesota Supreme Court, and U.S. District Court.
The conference continues on Saturday with a full-day of ten Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs, including The Federal Reserve at 100 Years: Perspectives from the Past and Outlook on the Future, Parting the Clouds: What Public Sector and In-House 2 Counsel Need to Know about Privacy, Security, and Compliance in the Cloud, Too Close to the Line: Reflections from the Bench on “Gray Areas” in the Practice of Law, and many others.
Saturday includes two national keynote speakers. Dr. Erika Lee, a professor at the University of Minnesota, is giving the lunch keynote address on Asian immigration, particularly in light of the 50th anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Jenny Yang, the first Asian-American Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is delivering the Gala keynote address on the 50th anniversary of the EEOC and the future direction of this federal agency.
At the traditionally well-attended annual Gala, MNAPABA will be featuring the Asian Pacific Legal Experience in America Exhibit, which traces the Asian Pacific American legal experience through a retrospective look at events historical including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Japanese American Incarceration in WWII, and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The exhibit first debuted in the United States Courthouse in Minneapolis on May 20, 2015. It has since traveled to the Duluth and Fergus Falls federal courthouses.
Background on Fred Korematsu
Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California. But it didn’t matter that he was a U.S. citizen when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 in 1942. The President’s order resulted in the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Ten camps were set up nationally and approximately 120,000 people were incarcerated during the war. An estimated two-thirds of these individuals were Japanese Americans born in the U.S. just like Korematsu.
Korematsu was arrested in 1942 for going into hiding in northern California after refusing to go to an incarceration camp. Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of his arrest in court and, two years later, the Supreme Court heard his case. In now one of its most infamous and criticized rulings ever, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government and against Korematsu. The majority of justices claimed that the detentions were not based on racial discrimination but rather on suspicions that JapaneseAmericans were acting as spies.
After World War II, Korematsu was released. But the conviction remained on his record for 40 years until it was finally overturned in 1983.