Photo by Carlo de la Cruz

Photo by Carlo de la Cruz



Karen Korematsu is the Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and the daughter of the late civil rights icon, Fred Korematsu. Since her father’s passing in 2005, Karen has carried on his legacy as a public speaker, educator and civil rights advocate. She shares her father’s passion for social justice and education and in 2009 established the Fred T. Korematsu Institute to advance racial equity, social justice and human rights for all. The Institute’s work has expanded from K-12 civic education to promoting public civic engagement and participation.  Karen crisscrosses the country speaking to audiences from Kindergarten to Judges and inspiring and promoting Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution of January 30. 

Karen’s work extends to advocating civil liberties for all communities and addresses current issues that draws upon lessons of the past. She has presented to Teachers College Columbia University, NY, New York and since 2012, the National and State Councils for the Social Studies and was Co-chair of the Annual National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Conference, 2017.

She has signed on to amicus briefs in several cases opposing violations of constitutional rights arising after 9/11, including Odah v. United States, Turkman v. Ashcroft, Hedges v. Obama, and Hassan v. City of New York and recently, Hawaii v. Trump. In 2015, Karen was inducted as the first non-lawyer member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She serves on the board of directors of Advancing Justice-AAJC and NAPABA Law Foundation. She has been interviewed on radio, podcasts and TV. Karen has been interviewed on radio, podcasts and TV. Last year her op-eds appeared in the NY Times and Washington Post. Karen has received numerous awards and honors including GMNY 2015 Isidore Starr Award, Muslim Advocates-Voice of Freedom Award; the “Key to the City of Dearborn, Michigan”; and the ACLU-Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. Just last month Karen received the Community Leadership Award from APAICS, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies in Washington, DC and her first honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont. 

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* Presented the Key to the City of Dearborn, Michigan by the Mayor of Dearborn (April 2017)

* ATTSS/UFT Greater Metropolitan New York 2015 Isidore Starr Civic Engagement Award

* Bentley School Freedom Award

* Iranian American Bar Association of Northern California’s Commitment to Social Justice Award

* Council of American Islamic Relations-San Francisco Bay Area’s Promoting Justice Award


* Judicial Council of California, Center for Judiciary Education and Research: Continuing the Dialogue broadcast (pre-recorded) on A Legacy of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred T. Korematsu Story, May 2015.

* History Channel: Interview for TV show 10 Things You Don’t Know About,” on “Japanese American Imprisonment during WWII and Fred Korematsu, August 30, 2014.

* NPR Talk of the Nation radio interview, The Legacy of Civil Rights Leader Fred Korematsu, January 31, 2012.

* CBS5 TV Interview, Bay Area Honors Man Who Refused WWII Internment, January 30, 2011.

* KQED Radio Interview, Wherever There’s a Fight, July 28, 2010.

* Rafu Shimpo Op-Ed, The Purpose of (Ed) Chen, May 19, 2010.

* KQED Radio Interview, Looking Back at Japanese American Internment, December 5, 2007.


* Brown University

* California Council for the Social Studies

* Clinton School of Public Service, University of Arkansas

* Fourth District Court of Appeals, Riverside, CA

* Hawaii State Social Studies Teachers Conference

* National Council for the Social Studies

* National Forum on Education

* New York State Social Studies Teachers Conference

* Northwestern University School of Law

* Seattle University School of Law

* University of California, Berkeley

* University of California, Davis

* University of Michigan