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Walk retraces route of civil rights fighter Minoru Yasui

COURTESY PHOTO: YASUI FAMILY - Portland attorney Minoru Yasui was the first Japanese American admitted to the Oregon State Bar. A walk to honor his March 1942 civil disobedience is planned Monday, March 28.Seven decades after he took a fateful walk through downtown Portland to test a World War II curfew on Japanese Americans, Oregon’s Nikkei Endowment will honor Minoru Yasui’s actions Monday afternoon with a walk of its own.

The Minoru Yasui Tribute Committee and the endowment will host the inaugural Minoru Yasui Day March for Justice, 4:30 p.m., to retrace Yasui’s 1942 route from the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, 121 N.W. Second Ave., to the old Portland police headquarters on Southwest Second Avenue near Oak Street.

In March 1942, Yasui’s walk earned him a trip to jail and a decades-long legal fight focused on the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, which established a West Coast curfew for Japanese Americans, and eventually led forced relocation of 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps. His legal fight stretched into the 1980s. Before his death in 1986, Minoru Yasui was an advocate of civil liberties for all Americans through his work in Denver, where he settled after World War II.

Yasui’s actions also earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was posthumously awarded in November by President Obama. The Oregon Legislature also approved a bill this year making March 28 Minoru Yasui Day, to honor his legacy.

“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, Minoru Yasui’s daughter and cofounder of the Minoru Yasui Tribute Committee.

“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,” said Lynn Fuchigami Longfellow, executive director of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. “The Inaugural Minoru Yasui Day March for Justice is not only a tribute to his legacy, but is also 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.’ ”

Minoru Yasui Day March for Justice

WHEN: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 28

WHERE: Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, 121 N.W. Second Ave., to the former site of Portland police headquarters on Southwest Second Avenue and Oak Street. A program follows in the offices of Stoll Berne at Second Avenue and Oak Street.