Min Yasui. • Photo Courtesy of Yasui Family
Min Yasui. • Photo Courtesy of Yasui Family

The following is an announcement from Oregon Nikkei Endowment:

The Minoru Yasui Tribute Committee and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment present the Inaugural Minoru Yasui Day March for Justice scheduled to take place on March 28, 2016, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.. This event is being held in celebration of the historic bill passed unanimously last month by the Oregon Senate and House designating March 28 of each year as Minoru Yasui Day. We invite you to join us on this historic day to honor Minoru “Min” Yasui, a true civil rights champion and an American hero, and the first-ever Oregonian awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the country, by President Barack Obama.

On March 28, 1942, in Portland, OR, Yasui deliberately broke the curfew that had been placed on all people of Japanese ancestry under Executive Order 9066. He believed the order, which eventually authorized the forced relocation and incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, was unconstitutional and wanted to bring a challenge in court. Yasui spent nine months in solitary confinement in Multnomah County Jail for the curfew violation and then was sent to Minidoka War Relocation Center, one of 10 inland concentration camps run by the federal government.

The Inaugural Minoru Yasui Day March for Justice will retrace Min’s historic walk on that fateful day in 1942, going by the former site of his law office in the Foster Hotel in Old Town Japantown and ending at the former site of Police Headquarters on SW 2nd Avenue and Oak Street where he was arrested. Attendees are asked to gather at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center (121 NW 2nd Avenue) at 4:30 p.m. for the short six-block walk followed by a program in the foyer and reception in the offices of Stoll Berne at SW Second Avenue and Oak Street.

Prior to the march proceeding, attendees will be able to view the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously awarded to the family of Minoru Yasui which will be on display at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. This special event will conclude with speeches made by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and other prominent public officials, civil rights leaders, and family members.

Minoru Yasui, the first Japanese American attorney admitted to the Oregon State Bar, was most well-known for his courageous stand beginning on March 28, 1942, but his entire life was committed to the defense of human and civil rights, and justice for all. He worked tirelessly on behalf of countless marginalized groups including ethnic and religious minorities, children and youth, the aged, and the economically disadvantaged. A lifelong member of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), he was Chair of the National Redress Committee and devoted the last years of his life, heart and soul, to that movement.

“It is important that we teach our children about this ugly history to ensure we will never repeat the mistakes of our past,” said Holly Yasui, daughter of Minoru Yasui and cofounder of the Minoru Yasui Tribute Committee.

O.N.E. Executive Director Lynn Fuchigami Longfellow adds: “We are inspired by Minoru Yasui’s ideals and accomplishments and are dedicated to continue his work for civil rights and the protection of our civil liberties. The Inaugural Minoru Yasui Day March for Justice is not only a tribute to his legacy, but is an annual reminder in why we must stand up and speak out for all marginalized communities, no matter your race, creed, color, sex, national origin, or religion. In the words of Min himself, ‘We will continue to fight this ever happening to another American group until our last breath.’”

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