Newly Released Book Details Korematsu Case for Young Readers

Alan Suemori
Commentary
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

I want to tell you about a small jewel of a book that a friend called to my attention last weekend. It tells the story of one of the darkest chapters in American history — a time when our nation succumbed to mindless fear and unbounded hysteria and abandoned our most fundamental and cherished values, all in the name of a wolf’s call of “military necessity.” Written by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, “Fred Korematsu Speaks Up,” published by Heyday in Oakland, Calif., is a paean to an unlikely hero who found himself swept away into the jaws of history where he would ultimately find resurrection and redemption. While the book is written as a civil rights primer for middle schoolers, its lessons are timeless and end up resonating far beyond the borders of its intended audience.

In 1941, Fred Korematsu was a 22-year-old unrepentant dreamer who yearned to break out of the claustrophobic world of his family’s flower nursery business. His most pressing life goals were to marry his Italian American girlfriend, Ida, and settle down.

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