A dual ceremony was held Jan. 30 honoring the late civil rights activist Fred T. Korematsu and dedicating the new middle school campus in El Cerrito named in his honor. Korematsu, in 1942 at the age of 23, refused to be placed in the government's Japanese American internment camps of World War II. He was arrested and convicted for defying the order. After a failed Supreme Court appeal in 1944, a federal court in San Francisco overturned his conviction on November 10, 1983. Korematsu was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1998.
His daughter Karen Korematsu, top left, founder and director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, was the featured speaker at the ceremony. Tori Saito, top right, who attended Portola Middle School in 1951-52, and members of the Sakura Kai Senior Center Taiko group, above, performed during the dedication event.
The former Portola Middle School was renamed for the late civil rights activist in 2014 and its new campus at the former Castro Elementary School is nearing completion and scheduled to open at the end of spring break.