Civil rights activist from Hood River to be honored with Preside - KPTV - FOX 12

Civil rights activist from Hood River to be honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

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WASHINGTON (KPTV/AP) -

The White House has announced that a late civil rights activist from Hood River will be one of this year's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's top civilian award.

Minoru Yasui was the first Japanese-American graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law. In 1942, he openly defied the wartime curfew against Japanese-Americans, an act that got him sent to a Portland jail for nine months of solitary confinement.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 1943, and Yasui spent the rest of his life appealing his conviction.

A federal court eventually overturned it in 1986, the year he died at age 70.

Congressman Greg Walden supported the nomination in a letter to President Obama. He said Yasui's act of civil obedience was compelled by faith in the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.

The awards will be presented next week at the White House.

Yasui’s family noted their pride in the legacy of the civil right crusader in a release Monday, and thanked the many people who helped to sign a spotlight on Yasui and his efforts to bring equality to all citizens.

“We are honored that our brother, Minoru Yasui, has been recognized for his fight for the rights of all Americans not just Japanese Americans,” Yasui’s youngest sister, Yuka, said in the release. “Wherever he saw injustice he faced it with courage and conviction. Although Min has been gone for nearly 30 years, in many ways he is still with us in the civil rights work that others are carrying on in his name and in his spirit.”

There is an effort underway to turn Yasui’s story into a film.

To learn more about the fundraising effort, go to MinoruYasuiFilm.org.

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