Jan. 30 will be `Fred Korematsu Day` in Illinois: Quinn - KMSP-TV

Jan. 30 will be `Fred Korematsu Day` in Illinois: Quinn

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Korematsu Coram Nobis Press Conference. Courtesy of the family of Fred T. Korematsu (keithpr/Flickr) Korematsu Coram Nobis Press Conference. Courtesy of the family of Fred T. Korematsu (keithpr/Flickr)
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Governor Pat Quinn on Friday proclaimed January 30 "Fred Korematsu Day" in Illinois, in honor of the Asian American civil rights activist who was the plaintiff in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case on internment camps during World War II.

Illinois is the fourth state to recognize Korematsu, following Hawaii, California and Utah, and it follows California as the second state with a day named after an Asian American, according to the Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education.

"Fred Korematsu was a heroic figure whose tenacity and commitment to making the world a better place for everyone," Quinn said in a written statement.

The honorary day marks Korematsu's birthday in 1919. He worked as a Navy shipyards welder before he and his family were among 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were ordered to internment camps on the West Coast during World War II, according to the Korematsu Institute.

Korematsu refused to go, underwent plastic surgery in an attempt to appear Caucasian and took on the alias "Clyde Sarah." After being arrested in 1942, his case went to the Supreme Court to test the consitutionality of the camps, which was upheld by justices at the time. The ruling was formally overturned in 1983.

Korematsu was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, and he remained active in civil rights matters until his death in 2005, according to the institute.

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