Goodbye #CalExit, hello #FreeTheBear!

The California National Party Continues To Work For Californian Independence

Media Contact:
Margo Drgos

Sacramento, Calif. (April 19, 2017) The recent dismantling of Yes California brings with it questions as to what will happen to the movement for California’s independence. The drive toward independence did not hinge on their existence, and the move toward independence will continue.  Now that the distractions have ended, the California National Party can focus on the path ahead.

The California National Party (CNP), a political party seeking qualification, has been working tirelessly to create a stronger voice for California. As part of their larger “pragmatic progressive” platform, they advocate greater autonomy and representation for California in the short term and independence over the longer term.

CNP Chair, Theo Slater says, “The CNP is excited and energized by the new possibilities for a stronger California without some of the distractions that have stood as obstacles to an independent California up to this point. We are the fastest growing new political party in California. Every day we register more voters and continue our vibrant growth trajectory.”

The CNP’s is already active in many of California’s counties and regions. Of those, the largest representation is in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The CNP also has rapidly growing chapters across the Central Valley as well as most other regions of California. CNP members pride themselves on their civic involvement and co-sponsored both the Women’s March and the Tax March. The CNP plans to continue its growth with even more involvement in local community events across California

They are actively seeking members through volunteer opportunities, dynamic social media and voter registration drives. “We continue to leverage our growth to move forward toward Universal Healthcare, fair representation for taxation, a sensible immigration policy that serves the needs of California, and environmental protections,” Slater says.


About the California National Party
The California National party is a grassroots political party that advocates Californian independence on a progressive platform designed to grow California’s economy, protect her people, and preserve her natural environment. You may read the party’s platform at

Californian values: a shared dream

This speech on Californian values and what that means was delivered by Jed Wheeler, our Vice Chairperson, at our March 2017 working convention.  It summarizes our goals and strategy over the next year as we register voters and build the movement for Californian independence.

My fellow Californians,

I want to start by thanking each of you for being here today, particularly the folks who flew or drove hella far or endured financial hardships to be here.  (I apologize for those of you not from the Bay Area, but as an Oaklander I had to include the word “hella” in my speech at least once!)

We are gathered here today because of a shared dream, a dream of a nation where our voices are heard and our values represented in the policies of our government. A nation that would never ban people because of their religion or tear apart families with mass deportations. A nation whose military does not engage in wars of aggression and rain bombs on other people’s children – children whose lives are every bit as precious as my little girl’s – while border guards turn away refugees. A nation where no one goes bankrupt or loses their home due to medical bills when they get sick and everyone has access to world-class healthcare. Remember that even under Obamacare, medical costs are still the leading cause of bankruptcy. If that’s the best we can hope for as part of America, then America’s best is not good enough for California!

We want a nation that takes real concrete action to mitigate climate change and that invests in the infrastructure needed to adapt and prepare for the changes we cannot stop. Where our forests and national parks are protected instead of being sold off to the highest bidder. Where no one is homeless, left out in the cold amidst incredible wealth. A nation where all people are equal before the law and police brutality and racial profiling are a thing of the past. And a nation where a child from East Oakland or rural Humboldt County has the same chance to learn and actualize their potential that children who come from wealthier backgrounds do.

I could go on, but I think you’ve got the point. You’ve all read our platform after all! When we talk about Californian values, this is what we mean.  This is the goal we are all working for.

When I wrote the first draft of that platform last year (and it’s important to note that many other people were involved in refining that first draft and adding their ideas, research, and passion to make it the document it is today) I could not have imagined the incredible upswell we’ve seen in support for this movement over the last few months. We have gone from a small but determined movement to one whose central idea – the independence of the Republic of California – is now shared by more than 13 million of our fellow Californians. That’s an incredibly powerful rejection of America’s bigotry and endorsement of our right to choose our own future.

Independence, however, is not enough on its own. And I have to emphasize this! There are plenty of people who would take an independent California and turn it into a playground for the super-wealthy, a place where the worst excesses of America’s me-first ethos run rampant. Where Sacramento continues to fail our poorest and most vulnerable people in urban and rural areas alike while our schools and infrastructure crumble around us. That’s not the future I want for our country!

A better California is possible, don’t ever doubt it! And that’s why we need to not just be the Party for independence, but a party for all Californians and a party that represents the best of the Californian ethos and spirit.

We are here today to work for independence, but more than that we are here to build that dream, the dream of a nation we can be proud of. And that’s a dream we do not have to wait for independence to start building. That’s why we’re talking about universal healthcare, for example, today. And that’s why it is so vitally important that we build the CNP into a real political party that can fight for our future, win elections, and build a better future for our kids here and now, while we work for independence over the long term.

We have an unprecedented opportunity. The Republican establishment in California has collapsed in California – discredited by their embrace of white nationalism in one of the most diverse nations on the planet. They now account for only 28.9% of registered voters – less than the 31% who already support independence. Their collapse leaves California with only 1 viable party in a system designed for two parties.

Now we, of course, want to switch to Proportional Representation and a multi-party system – something we can do before independence – but for now, democracy demands two functional parties at an absolute minimum.  Millions of Californians who are disgusted with the spinelessness and corruption of many Democrats have no credible opposition party that they can support instead. We will be that opposition! And once in office our candidates will work across the aisle whenever and wherever the Democrats are willing to do the right thing and fight them relentlessly when they choose the wrong side. And, in doing so, we will demonstrate our commitment to California and to our ideals, win the trust of California’s people, and win the democratic mandate we need to call for a mutually recognized and legally binding referendum on independence.

This will not be easy! All the work we’ve done up to this point is nothing compared to the work ahead. But Californians are known all over the world for our ability to do the impossible. That’s why we attract half of America’s investment capital and are the epicenter of the entire planet’s technology startup ecosystem. California has a lot of exports, but our most important export is this – we export the future!

So how do we get there?

The first step is we have to qualify as a political party. Doing that will make us the first pro-independence party in California’s history to qualify for the ballot, make the CNP the face of the independence movement around the world, and prove to the press and everyone else that this is a serious movement. It also means our candidates are automatically qualified and open up a huge amount of funding and data that we can use to grow the party from there. Now in normal years that would require around 50,000 registered voters, but California’s higher than normal turnout in November’s election has raised that bar a bit to 63,000.  We are a long way off from that goal! We don’t know the exact number of people registered with us yet, we’re still waiting on the Secretary of State’s office to respond to our request for an updated count, but even if every single person who Likes us on Facebook or Follows us on Twitter was registered, we’d still only be about 20% of the way there.

That’s a hell of a lot further than we were last June when we held our first leadership elections and our effort to build a viable political party began! But we have a long way to go between now and next January, which is our cutoff to qualify in this election cycle. Of course if we don’t quite make it, we’ll try again next year and we’ll keep trying until we get there. But I would really like to start 2018 as a member of the only unashamedly pro-California party on the ballot. So if you’re wondering what you can do to move the cause of independence forward, registering voters is the answer.

I want to pause to recognize those of my fellow Californians who do not have US citizenship and thus cannot register but are here to fight for our country. We see you. We appreciate you. You matter! And in an independent Republic of California there will be a path to citizenship for all Californians!

Now, for those of us who have the privilege of being able to vote, who here has changed your voter registration to CNP, can I get a show of hands?

Who here has gotten your spouse or partner to register? What about your parents, your friends, or your neighbors? By a show of hands, how many people have gotten at least one other person to register? And how many have gotten 5? Or 10?

I know these conversations are difficult, but this right here, going out and talking to our friends, families, and neighbors, is how we will transform this movement into California’s next major political party. Politics are tribal, parties vote for the people their families and friends vote for. So if we want to succeed we need to gather all our various tribes and have those difficult conversations. If every CNP member today got 10 people to register and those people each got 10 more to register, we’d be qualified as a party with a huge margin to spare.

Now many of you are already familiar with what I’m about to say, but I want to make sure we’re all clear on the answers to these common questions you’ll encounter as you’re out registering voters:

1 – Registering CNP does not mean you cannot vote for candidates from other parties. In fact, most of us will likely vote for other parties in most races since it will take time to recruit viable candidates of our own. In some races we may even cross-endorse if there is a candidate from another party who shares our values and is running a viable campaign.

2 – Registering is free, takes 5 minutes, and can be completed online. Don’t just ask people to register, walk them through the process and help them do it.
And, for all those skeptics you encounter, let them know you can be a skeptic on independence and still register CNP. This is a party that will fight for California by every peaceful and legal means available to us here and now. If they agree with the other 9 points in our platform, there is no other party that will fight to move those things forward as hard as we will. Get that person to register!

3 – You don’t have to be an urban liberal or progressive to support the CNP. Unlike the democrats, we are absolutely committed to representing rural and urban Californians both. That means working for water security for our farmers, stopping rural hospital closures, investing in schools for our rural communities, and addressing the host of other issues that currently fall on deaf ears in Sacramento.  This is a movement for all of California and we all have a stake in each other’s future.  It’s time to put aside hyper-partisan rhetoric of the Democrats and Republicans and start working together.

4 – Everyone who shares our values and vision is welcome in the CNP. Our entire leadership team is keenly aware that we need to work very hard to increase our diversity. California is one of the most diverse nations in the world and that diversity must be represented in our candidates for office and our party leadership. In the meantime, the CNP is absolutely committed to working for social justice and fighting for the interests of all Californians.

5 – One of my least-favorite questions we get is people asking (or just asserting) that we are led from Russia. When you hear this please politely but firmly state that we have no connection whatsoever to any foreign government and that the articles claiming the independence movement are led from Russia are about a separate organization to which we have no ties. In point of fact, the leadership of the CNP is all of you here in this room. We are all the leader!

At a fundamental level this movement is about the people of California rejecting the mental colonization that has told us – in defiance of all evidence – that we are incapable of governing ourselves and need people in Washington DC to run things for us. You can hear echoes of it in the people who call for California to join Canada – a nation with a significantly smaller population and economy than us – instead of working for independence. Why in the world would we trade one distant capital for another? What exactly would that accomplish? I am here to tell you that we – the people of California – are more than capable of governing ourselves and forging our own destiny. And when I think about who should be leading the charge I look to all of you – not DC, not Ottawa, and certainly not Moscow! This is – and must be – a movement of, by, and for the people of California.

Let me just leave you with this last thought.

History has pivot points. There are moments in time – rarely – when the world can change and we are living in one of those moments. I heard someone say the other day that it’s like living during the fall of the Roman Empire, but with smart phones – and it’s true!

We have an opportunity to change the world. Old systems, old ways of thinking, old identities are falling away. Millions of people who last year would have called themselves “Americans” would instead answer “Californian” today. And we have a chance now to open a dialogue about what that means. What do we mean when we say Californian values? What are our ideals, our dreams, and our aspirations? What is our place in the world and among the family of nations? Will we use our strength and our power to give a voice to the voiceless? Will we provide a sanctuary for the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free that America has turned its back on? Will we stand for humanity and for the millions of other species threatened by climate change? And will we create a nation where no one has to live in fear because of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or religion? Will we finally recognize that we are bound together, that we need each other, that we all have a stake in each other’s future – from Klamath to San Diego?

We can no longer accept the me-first ethos that has driven such incredible divisions among our cousins to the east. Starting here, now, today, I would urge you all to start looking for ways that it can be all of us first. All of us together. All of us, Californians.

to help us fight for California and Californian values!


Why Rural California Votes Red, and Why We Should Listen

A tremendous amount of ink has been spilled about the recent American elections and the split between urban and rural areas. As tempting as it is to rant about everything the Democrats did wrong along the way, instead I want to talk a bit about why Californians voted the way they did and what that means for our future.  This is the first of several posts that will address that topic.

At the end of the day, two thirds of California’s voters checked the box for Clinton – some enthusiastically and some less so. Like previous elections, this one came down to urban vs rural. Rural Californians, rightly disgusted at the way they have been ignored and betrayed by Democrats in Sacramento and Washington DC both, overwhelmingly opted to come out and vote for someone who portrayed himself as an outsider who would listen to them. The fact that millions of people who knew their votes would make no difference came out to vote against the Democrat speaks volumes to the levels of dissatisfaction. We need to firmly denounce the condescending attitude that so many Democrats have towards rural voters and recognize that there are real issues here that need to be addressed.

So what are the issues? There are many, but in this installment we’ll touch on just a few.

We’ll start with logging and fishing vs. environmental concerns. While California has strict regulation on private lands, federally owned lands (with 20 million acres of National Forest the federal government is by far the biggest landowner) are managed according to federal standards. Up until 1990 that meant clearcutting and replacing forests with monoculture tree plantations that are particularly susceptible to wildfire and beetles, provide very limited habitat, and experience massive soil erosion while the newly planted trees are small. That eroded soil ends up in the rivers, destroying fisheries. This has been absolutely devastating to our fishing industry and destroyed the river ecosystems where salmon spawn.  Faced with collapsing fisheries and the inability of the State to regulate logging on federal land, Sacramento responded by shutting down much of the remaining fishing. Diverting water from the rivers to feed farms has been the final nail in the coffin for many river ecosystems and means that 27 years later most of our fisheries have never recovered – and neither has our fishing industry.

A competent government could have prevented this mess by adopting appropriate regulation up front. Turning over federal lands to California (as we call for in the CNP platform) and adopting sustainable logging practices would safeguard our forests and rivers while maintaining jobs over the long term. Instead, short-sighted officials in DC and Sacramento made a mess of things and left rural Californians holding the bag.

Now, let’s look at agriculture, or more specifically, the water our farmers require. For farmers, soaring water costs driven by protracted droughts have led to an almost annual debate over whether we should divert ever-growing amounts of water from the rivers. Doing so would be, at most, a temporary solution for our farms; but it’s hard to convince someone whose farm is teetering on the edge of solvency that fish are more important than their ability to feed their kids – even if the survival of those fish is critical to someone else’s ability to do the same.

“Opening up the water,” as Trump proposed in one of his campaign speeches, would only have a marginal impact on the water available to farmers and would guarantee that our fisheries never recover. There are so many other options. For instance, the CNP proposes interest-free loans for farmers who want to upgrade to drip irrigation and other technologies that could save billions of gallons of water – and billions in water costs – if adopted across California’s vast farmlands. There are many other potential solutions to add additional water supply as well, from atmospheric dehumidifiers to desalination to just plain fixing the corroded network of pipes that move water around the state and lose millions of gallons a year.

Rural California – and rural America – goes “red” because the Democrats have failed to speak for them or represent their interests and voting for Republicans is the only recourse available. That’s not a mistake the CNP intends to repeat!

Experts and Media Personalities to Present at California National Party Convention


Media Contact:

Jay Rooney
(510) 707-3998

SANTA MONICA, Calif.—The California National Party (CNP) is excited to announce its first Working Convention of 2017. Members from across California will turn out for what promises to be the CNP’s most energetic and highest-attended convention to date.

According to CNP Vice Chairperson Jed Wheeler, “In the last four months the CNP has gone from an idea to a real, living, breathing organization with thousands of supporters from all over California. I am absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to finally sit down in person with some the folks who’ve worked so hard to make that happen and plan our next steps.”

The keynote address is on universal healthcare, an important plank in the CNP’s platform, by leading healthcare scholar and author Rob Fuller, an experienced attorney with a record of hands-on leadership in the healthcare industry. He served as chief operating officer of a hospital for over a decade, and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is also the author of a new book, “ObamaCare to TrumpCare: Why You Should Care,” as well as an expert in reorganization work, financing, credit facility and banking operations for healthcare, and bond issuance and compliance.

A panel of policy scholars will discuss the challenges facing our young political party. Panelists include leading political and media strategist Dan Schnur, the Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, where he works to motivate students to become active in the world of politics and encourage public officials to participate in the daily life of USC — as well as public policy expert Dr. H. Eric Schockman, an Associate Professor and Chair of the Leadership Department and Director of the Center for Leadership at Woodbury University. He also teaches in the Ph.D. program in Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine University.

The convention will be held at the Santa Monica Public Library, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium (601 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica CA 90401), on Saturday March 11, 2017 at 2:00 PM.

About the California National Party
The California National party is a grassroots political party that advocates Californian independence on a progressive platform designed to grow California’s economy, protect her people, and preserve her natural environment. You may read the party’s platform at


California can continue to be an inspiration to the world

Throughout my time as the California National Party’s press secretary I’ve spoken to journalists from all over California, the United States, and the world. Through these conversations, I hope to persuade the media — and by extension, the readers that trust them — that independence is the best path forward for California.

Of course, this is a tall order when advancing such a bold (but by no means novel) idea as Californian independence. The reporters, editors, and producers I’ve talked to run the gamut from friendly and curious to doubtful and even hostile, but the one thing they almost all have in common is that they feel independence is impossible, or at least highly implausible.

Not that I blame our media friends for being skeptical. After all, we’re an unorthodox upstart advocating an unorthodox solution — it’d be strange if they didn’t doubt us! But it does mean that before we can even begin convincing our fellow Californians on the merits of independence, we must first convince the media of its feasibility.

The one exception to this rule has been the international press. Reporters from Europe, Australia, and South America have reached out to us, and the articles they’ve produced display an open-mindedness, fairness, and positivity of a caliber I’ve yet to encounter stateside. And I believe I know why.

For I’ve also noticed that these articles are invariably accompanied by photographs of California’s most iconic people and places — the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood sign, Arnold Schwarzenegger — and point out that California is both the tech and entertainment capital of the world. I don’t feel this is a coincidence.

California holds a very special place in the world’s imagination. Mention California, and people — even if they’ve never visited — visualize sunny beaches lined with palm trees, giant redwood forests, tumbleweeds blowing across crimson-skied deserts, cable cars climbing foggy, rolling hills, and (of course) Disneyland. My wife (a fifth-generation Californian) talks about how when traveling abroad, people’s eyes light up whenever she tells them she’s from California. Mention California’s history and people’s minds travel from the gold rush through the birth of the film industry, from Haight-Ashbury in the 60s to the tech miracles of Silicon Valley. The Californian Dream is imbedded in humanity’s consciousness, and people worldwide know it’s the place to go to fulfill your wildest aspirations.

And now, in the dark days of 2017, when a new breed of violent, reactionary nationalism has engulfed democracies in Europe and America, California stands out as one of liberal democracy’s last remaining bastions — a place that not only embodies and nurtures progressive values like freedom, equality, inclusion, and social (as well as environmental) consciousness, but also has the means and strength to defend these values against the authoritarian assault emerging from the White House.

This world of ours, distraught by a global resurgence of extremism, is pinning its hopes on California to save not just itself, but also democratic values. As America — once the world’s guardian of freedom and progress — sees its institutions, ideals, and integrity crumble under a big, orange thumb, people worldwide are rooting for us to assume the mantle as the model and influence for the values we hold dear.

For if we Californians become independent, we will have it in our power to preserve these values. We can provide for our citizens and our land without interference from thousands of miles away. We can set an example in areas like immigration policy, trade policy, and civil liberties. And once we take our seat at the community of nations, we can positively influence the world by being a leader in climate action, equality, and innovation — hell, we can even launch our own damn satellites, as Governor Brown proclaimed.

The world knows this — which is why we don’t need to convince international media that independence is possible. It’s almost beside the point, in their view — the world wants us to succeed, because the world needs us to succeed. We are the world’s greatest hope against the rising tide of oppression.

So, fellow Californians: when we get tired and exhausted during the fight for independence, when we feel worn down by our work and by the upcoming resistance from the status quo, when the Trump Administration has shocked and awed our spirit and our sanity, remember that we are not alone. We can take heart knowing that we have friends and allies in every corner of the Earth who are watching us closely, crossing their fingers, and supporting us however they can.

Even though they may be far away, they are still standing with us as we bring about the ultimate California Dream: a free, democratic, and independent California Republic.

Dreamin’ of independence from Trump’s America

Our LA chapter co-chair, Linda Daly, writes for the SF Chronicle on how the election of Donald Trump prompted her to work for Californian independence.

I had not been politically active on the national level in years. Sure, I voted for whom I felt best represented my position, but sometimes it was just to retain the right to complain about anyone in office. I grew tired of candidates spouting the same rhetoric, and of lobbyists controlling Washington. I was really tired of looking for a progressive candidate who would have my back. I longed for one of the smaller parties to grow enough to challenge our old two-party system.

This past election, I voted for Hillary Clinton. It was exhilarating to watch the returns with my two teens, a son who voted for the first time and a 17-year-old daughter who volunteered for Clinton, until the moment our joy crumbled.

How could so many blue states allow someone like Donald Trump to win?

Read more:

An independent California? In the age of Trump, some want just that

From The New Daily, in Australia

An independent California would be a progressive powerhouse that could rival the world’s largest economies, according to supporters of a growing breakaway movement.

Calls for an independent California – dubbed ‘#Calexit’ – have grown louder since Donald Trump swept to power in November, prompting serious coverage in American news media.

With the President’s hardline immigration policies and climate skepticism considered an anathema to the West Coast’s diverse, progressive population, two political movements are fronting an emboldened push for California to secede from the union.

The California National Party, modelled on Scotland’s SNP, sees itself as part of a proud Californian independence tradition.

Read more:

California is different and Trump's election proves it

Telam, an Argentinian magazine, interviews Jay Rooney on the CNP and our path to independence.  Note that the article is in Spanish, the excerpt below was translated.

“…for every dollar that Californians pay in taxes, they get about 78 cents, when other states like Mississippi get between 2 and 4 dollars for every green bill paid.

“So California is subsidizing other states while our schools fail and our roads crumble, and this will remain the case as long as we remain part of the United States,” said the press secretary of the group that has just had the status Of a political party recognized by the authorities.

Rooney also argued that California has “low representation” in the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as not having a strong influence on the president’s election despite his 55 voters: “Donald Trump lost the popular vote for 2.9 million Votes, most of them from California. ”

“California is very different from the rest of the United States, and the recent election demonstrates this: at the same time that our American friends chose a racist and narcissistic tyrant as president, California passed a series of more progressive initiatives.”

The cultural and social axis is also a reason, he said, for independence: “Californians are united by shared history, ecology, culture and values, which are very different from the values ​​of the United States.”

“California highly values ​​freedom, diversity, inclusivity, innovation and compassion – all of which are in grave danger under the Trump Administration.”

A Successful Path to a Peaceful Secession looks at the key elements of peaceful independence movements:

Robert young, a professor of political science, wrote an interesting paper about how peaceful secessions happen. In it, he analyzes various secessions from the past and theorized that the long term success of the peaceful ones depended on their fitting a general pattern.

He focuses mainly on three secession movements; Hungary from Austria in 1867, Norway from Sweden in 1905, and Singapore from Malaysia in 1965. It is interesting to note that, while they were considered peaceful, they weren’t without conflict — a Hungarian revolt was put down, there were threats of war between Norway and Sweden, and race riots sprang up in Singapore.

The pattern is as follows:

  1. Secession follows protracted constitutional and political disputes.
    It results from long periods of disagreement and crystallizes around a symbolic issue of principle.
  2. The secessor state declares its intent to withdraw.
  3. The predecessor state accepts the principle of secession: negotiations follow.
    This is usually a bitter and difficult decision, but one that marks the difference between contested secessions and peaceful ones.
  4. Secession is a momentous, galvanizing event.
    While “peaceful secession” gives the impression of tranquility, the aftermath can be a period of “disruption and uncertainty.”
  5. The government is broadened and strengthened on each side, and there is a premium on solidarity.
    The focus will be on the immediate need to reach a settlement.
  6. The negotiations involve few participants
  7. The settlement is made quickly
  8. The settlement involves a relatively short list of items
  9. Foreign powers play an important role
    International recognition is important for the new country and outside powers could be allies
  10. The secession is accomplished Constitutionally
    All peaceful secessions are accomplished through legal means
  11. There are no other substantial constitutional changes in either the seceding or the predecessor state
  12. Policies in the two states soon begin to diverge
  13. Secession is irrevocable

Remembering Past Lessons

Editor’s note: While this blog was originally submitted in early January, the recent focus on immigrant targeting and deportation by the Trump administration makes this a very timely post, and underscores the California National Party’s commitment to a sensible, humane immigration and citizenship policy.


“No one should ever be locked away simply because they share the same race, ethnicity, or religion as a spy or terrorist.  If that principle was not learned from the internment of Japanese Americans, then these are very dangerous times for our democracy” – Fred Korematsu

January 30th was Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in California.

Fred Korematsu was a native son of California, born in Oakland on January 30th, 1919.  Korematsu was required to report for internment during WWII, along with 120,000 others of Japanese descent (most of them America citizens) after Franklin Roosevelt signed executive order 9066. Fred defied this order, was arrested and convicted as a result and eventually incarcerated, along with his family, at the internment camp for Japanese Americans in Topaz, Utah.

Korematsu appealed his incarceration up to the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Korematsu v United States contesting the constitutionality of the internment of US citizens, a case that ruled against him. The ruling held that the ‘need to protect against espionage outweighed the rights of Japanese-American citizens’.  Korematsu’s conviction for evading internment was eventually overturned in 1983, nearly 40 years later, on the basis of government misconduct; key documents were discovered that intelligence agencies withheld from the Supreme Court that showed Japanese-Americans had committed no treasonous acts to justify internment.

Fred dedicated his life to activism and continued to speak out against government abuses of civil rights.  In 1998 President Clinton award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Just a little context on my personal interest in Fred Korematsu Day. My family (grandparents) immigrated from Russia via China and Hawaii and eventually to San Francisco where there was a Russian community on Potrero Hill. That was a community of White Russians that had to flee during the Russian revolution. When I was young in the 1960’s my parents and extended family talked about the fear they had because of the cold war and any possible backlash to us. If war were to break out, my parents felt that what happened to the Japanese-American citizens could happen to us. In school, because of my name, kids used to call me a, “F****** commie Russian.”  So I completely understand the fear Muslims and others have today.  No one should live in fear because of their race, ethnic background or religion.

Fred Korematsu Day is a reminder of that.

California was the first state to officially recognize January 30th as Fred Korematsu Day.  Today, 6 states have followed California’s lead and have also recognized Fred Korematsu Day…Utah, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

I have only shared a very short thought on Fred Korematsu, he has an entire legacy that was barely touched upon.  To read more about Fred Korematsu, native son of California, take a look at