Freedom Flicks to Screen “A Bitter Legacy” in Honor of Fred T. Korematsu Day

A Bitter Legacy – A Freedom Flicks Screening

Thursday, January 30 from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Helen Mills Theater – 137 W. 26th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Admission: Free

In celebration of New York City’s Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution, the Center for Constitutional Rights is partnering with Tsuru for SolidarityNew York City Day of Remembrance (NYC DOR) and the Japanese American Citizens League – New York to present a screening of the feature documentary A Bitter Legacy.

About the Film

While there is a lot of material about the history of Japanese American detention during WWII, A Bitter Legacy investigates the “Citizen Isolation Centers.” These are harsh and secret prisons within the Japanese American incarceration camp system that separated citizens whom the U.S. government deemed “troublemakers” from the others. These secret prisons have been called precursors to Guantánamo.

Filmmaker Claudia Katayanagi interviews professors, artists, and other former prisoners of the Japanese American incarceration system and incorporates archival and present-day photographs to bring to light this little known piece of history.


Following the screening, CCR Advocacy Program Manager Aliya Hussain will moderate a discussion with Staff Attorney Diala Shamas, Katayanagi, and ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Carl Takei. They will speak about the legacy of Japanese American incarceration during World War II and the criminalization of other communities in the name of national security.

Fred Korematsu, NYC, Japanese Americans, incarceration, WWII, wartime hysteria, civil rights, Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution
The moment the New York City Council passed legislation establishing Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on December 19, 2017. Photo by George Hirose.

About Fred T. Korematsu

Fred T. Korematsu is a Japanese American civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, Korematsu was arrested for his refusal to relocate to incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. He challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, and his pursuit for justice led him to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity.

In 1983, with new evidence, attorneys reopened Korematsu’s 40-year-old case on the basis of government misconduct. As a result, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in a federal court in San Francisco. It was a pivotal moment in civil rights history.

Korematsu remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton. He died on March 30, 2005 at the age of 86.

On December 19, 2017, the New York City Council unanimously passed Resolution 0792, establishing January 30 as a permanent annual observance.

Screening Information

The screening is currently at capacity, but there will be a waitlist. You should still RSVP at this link, and organizers will notify you if space becomes available.

About Freedom Flicks

The Center for Constitutional Rights believes in the transformative power of art and culture. Freedom Flicks, the Center’s long-running film series, harnesses the power of film to educate, activate, and build community. Freedom Flicks engages audiences across disciplines in stories of struggle and courage that shape our world, past and present. Programming includes screenings of cutting-edge, socially engaged films followed by a short conversation with storytellers, lawyers, and activists.

For more information about CCR, please visit their website.

JapanCultureNYC is the English-language website dedicated to all things Japanese in New York City. Discover your next favorite Japanese anything at