Google is celebrating civil rights leader Fred Korematsu with its Google Doodle today, on the day that would’ve marked his 98th birthday. Korematsu was born in Oakland, California, to Japanese immigrants. He went into hiding when U.S. President Roosevelt issued an executive order sending people of Japanese descent living in the U.S. to internment camps.
Korematsu went into hiding instead of entering a camp voluntarily, and was arrested in 1942 for fleeing the order. He was then imprisoned in a camp in Utah until the end of the war. Korematsu was later issued the Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton, and following the events of September 11, he spoke out about how the U.S. should not go down the same path with those of Middle-Eastern descent as it did with people of Japanese heritage during WWII.
Korematsu would also file amicus briefs in court cases involving detainees at Guantanamo Bay who were arguing against wrongful and prolonged unlawful detainment, arguing that the restriction of civil liberties is never a justifiable measure in the U.S.
A famous quote attributed to Korematsu is “don’t be afraid to speak up,” something he advised all Americans to do in case something was wrong.
Given the events of this past weekend, it’s hard not to see this as a political statement. Google also pledged $4 million to support efforts by four nonprofit organizations to fight Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.