HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "Learning about people such as Fred Korematsu has proved how much of an unique and diverse country America is," said student Nicole Verdadero.
These are the words that helped inspire Governor Abercrombie to declare today: "Fred Korematsu Day in Hawaii." It acknowledges Korematsu's efforts in changing history for Japanese-Americans who faced racism after World War II.
"And has helped me to appreciate those who fight for their rights now more than ever," Verdadero said.
Waialua High School student, Nicole Verdadero, and her sophomore classmates wrote letters to the Governor after learning about Korematsu in her teacher's (Mary Chun) history class.
"I was inspired, because he was so young and he just spoke up for himself and what he believed in even though it was against the government," said Verdadero.
"It made it a much more powerful lesson, and the students were really connected to that because of his youth and the fact that he spoke up and I think they could recognize a little part of themselves," said Mary Chun.
Korematsu's daughter, Karen, came to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater to honor her father and share a documentary ("Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story") with students and the public.
"You don't belong in this country, and I am an American, and I thought that was wrong." (from a clip from the documentary and voice of Fred Korematsu)
"I tell them that my father was an ordinary American that did extraordinary things and they can make a difference as well," said Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu and Co-founder of Fred T. Korematsu Institute.
Karen said education played an important role in her father's life and now his legacy is being brought into the classrooms of Hawaii.
"Fred Korematsu Institute has developed curriculum that is for teacher's that they can order for free," said Karen. "Many of the teachers have the curriculum here in Hawaii to share."
More than 3000 teachers nationwide are using Korematsu's story to inspire students.
"I like his quote, 'Don't be afraid to speak up for yourself," said Peni Nafaumui, a student at Farrington High School.
"I learned a lot today about standing up when it is wrong," said April Matagi, student at Farrington High School.
Hawaii is now one of three states to declare January 30th, Fred Korematsu Day. Today Korematsu would have been 94 years old. He is the first Asian-American to have a day named after him.
Teachers may also request curriculum to use in their classrooms.