Today in history: February 19, 1942 - President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, leading to the incarceration of almost 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II.
The war-time measures applied to Japanese Americans in a sweeping way, uprooting entire communities particularly on the West Coast. Afterward, Japanese Americans fought a legal battle against the concentration camps all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The original Supreme Court decision which upheld the camps in the interests of ‘national security’ was later vacated (overturned on a technicality), but the Supreme Court never ruled that the camps were unconstitutional. After a decades-long battle, in 1988 the U.S. government was forced to formally apologize for the internment, admitting that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion in reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned and their descendents.
Today Japanese American organizations on the West Coast organize an annual Day of Remembrance to mark this date and to continue to raise consciousness so that such attacks on civil liberties never happen again to Japanese Americans or oppressed groups. See Fight Back News coverage of last year’s Day of Remembrance here.
(image: sign ordering Japanese Americans to concentration camps)
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)