Wyden: Today’s Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony for Oregon Civil Rights Hero is a Well-Deserved Honor
Senator Praises Minoru Yasui’s Fight for Equality and Justice
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said today’s Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony for Oregon civil rights hero Minoru Yasui is a well-deserved honor for a steadfast champion of civil and human rights.
“Minoru dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice and equality under the law,” said Wyden, who twice wrote the White House to urge that Mr. Yasui receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously. “He was a trailblazer whose courage, eloquence and dogged fight against unjust government bigotry should always be remembered as an example of what one person with a powerful voice can accomplish for others.”
Born in Hood River, Mr. Yasui earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Oregon. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he sought nine times to join the U.S. Army but was denied because of his Japanese heritage.
Mr. Yasui challenged President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 placing restrictions on his fellow Japanese-Americans, including the internment of 120,000 in camps across several Western states.
While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him, an Oregon district court eventually overturned his conviction. Although that ruling did not cover the broader constitutionality of wartime internment, Mr. Yasui ultimately prevailed in his fight for Japanese-Americans interned during World War II when Congress in 1988 passed the Civil Liberties Act, which formally apologized for the relocation and internment and provided financial compensation.
More information about all 17 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom can be found here.
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