Culture

Google celebrates immigrant rights activist in Doodle

The doodle comes only three days after President Trump issued an order banning citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the US. Coincidence?

doodle.jpg

Fred Korematsu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton.

Google

Google is using its doodle for Monday to celebrate the birthday of a civil liberties activist who fought for immigrant rights in the US.

Visible only on its US homepage, the doodle marks what would have been the 98th birthday of Fred Korematsu, who was born in Oakland, California, to Japanese immigrant parents, but was turned away from joining the US National Guard and Coast Guard during World War II due to his ethnicity.

Instead, Korematsu, like 115,000 other people of Japanese descent living in the US, was ordered to an internment camp per an executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Korematsu refused to hand himself and instead went into hiding. He was arrested in 1942 and sent to Central Utah War Relocation Center until the war ended in 1945.

The timing of the doodle doesn't seem to be a coincidence. On Sunday, Google announced that it's launching a crisis fund to help immigrant causes in the wake of Donald Trump's immigration order, which bans citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days. The order, issued Friday, also bans refugees from entering the country for 120 days and places a permanent ban on refugees from Syria.

Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, has been openly critical of Trump's executive order. One of the organizations its immigration fund is set to benefit is the American Civil Liberties Union, which in the 1940s fought to prevent Korematsu from being incarcerated.

Plenty of people had thoughts on the doodle's subject and timing.

President Gerald Ford officially overturned and apologized for the order that affected Korematsu in 1976, and his conviction was also finally overturned, but not until 1983. In 1998 President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to fighting for civil rights.

Clicking through from the doodle pulls up a quote from Korematsu. "If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don't be afraid to speak up," it says.

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