May 18, 2008

Dale Minami wins Citation Award

According to AsianWeek, UC Berkeley School of Law just gave civil rights leader Dale Minami the Citation Award, which is one of their highest honors.

Check this out:
Previous Citation Award recipients include: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren; California Supreme Court Justices Allen Broussard, Cruz Reynoso, Roger Traynor, and Matthew Tobriner; and U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson.

“Dale Minami brought the first employment discrimination class action on behalf of Asian Americans; the first lawsuit to stop the police from making mass arrests of young men in Chinatown because they might be gang members; the first tenure cases representing Asian American professors; and engineered the strategy leading to the appointment of the first Asian American judge in Alameda County, Ken Kawaichi,” said Minami’s law firm partner, Donald K. Tamaki, who introduced Minami at the event.

Tamaki and Minami worked together on Korematsu v. United States, a lawsuit that overturned a 40-year-old conviction for refusal to obey exclusion orders aimed at Japanese Americans during World War II, and originally upheld by the U.S Supreme Court in landmark decisions.

Korematsu v. United States was a landmark decision. To the best of my knowledge, it was the first time that the Supreme Court legitimized the decisions of those Japanese Americans during WWII who practiced civil disobedience in response to a terrible and illegal seizure and detainment based on race alone.

Minami also deserves props for his work in his bold stand on recognizing good vs. bad role models for Asian Americans. He was one of the notable leaders who wrote to the Director of the National Park Service to set the story straight on JACL leader Mike Masaoka, who urged Japanese Americans to comply with the government. Minami set the record straight. See here, where a letter he co-authored says,
Research findings and evidence have been presented to the National Park Service, proving that Masaoka and the organization he represented, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), did not defend and firmly uphold the community’s civil and constitutional rights. On the contrary, he and the organization he represented not only espoused going along with infringements upon these rights, but they also suggested discriminatory policies.

The hardest part of activism is taking stances against other people, whether they are dead or alive. Thank goodness we have fearless people like Dale Minami who are willing to stand for truth. Congrats to him on yet another victory.

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