Google Commemorates Japanese American Activist

Google commemorated Fred Korematsu, a second generation Japanese American most noted for his challenge to the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, with an original doodle that incorporated him into Google’s logo above the search bar for a day.

Korematsu attempted to volunteer for military service in his hometown of Oakland, California, but the government rejected his request due to his race. Following President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1942 executive order calling for relocation of Japanese Americans, Korematsu went into hiding, but was later arrested. Korematsu and his family were forcefully kept in a Utah camp until 1945. He challenged the order to the Supreme Court but lost in a 6-3 decision which upheld his conviction and internment. President Bill Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 for his work in civil rights.

California designated January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day in memory of his fight for liberty. This year, the day arrived amid protests and disapproval of President Trump’s executive order barring entry of people from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, and Libya for 90 days. Trump’s order additionally prohibits entry of all refugees for 120 days. On January 30, Google changed its standard logo atop its search bar to feature an artistic rendition of Korematsu, including barracks and people behind fences.

The logo appears to be a subtle rebuke of Trump’s immigration order. Some opponents of the policy took to social media comparing the temporary immigration ban to Japanese internment during World War II.

“If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up,” Mr. Korematsu famously said.

His legacy of fighting discrimination is particularly relevant as protesters flock to airports and government buildings demanding the revocation of Trump’s immigration ban.