Minoru Yasui - Denver, CO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
N 39° 45.138 W 104° 59.597
13S E 500575 N 4400265
The monument to Minoru Yasui is found in Denver's Sakura Square in the LoDo area. There are several monuments to civil rights leaders who impacted the Japanese American community.
Waymark Code: WMFEB9
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 10/06/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Miles ToGeo
Views: 3

The plinth reads:

"We are all put on this Earth to leave it a better place for our having been here..."


An American of uncommon courage and principle
Bron in Hood River, Oregon, October 19, 1916
Died, Denver, Colorado, November 12, 1986

So fervently did Minoru Yasui believe in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution that, during World War II, he endured nine months solitary confinement to test the government's authority to discriminate against Americans of Japanese ancestry on the basis of race. The U. S. Supreme Court ruled against him, but Yasui ultimately was vindicated when the 100th Congress and President Ronald Reagan apologized to Japanese Americans for the injustice of suspended freedoms. As Director of Denver's Comissions on Community Relations, Yasui dedicated his life to advancing the rights of his fellow man regardless of color or creed. This monument is dedicated to the memory of an uncommon American who served his nation with extraordinary commitment to its highest principles.
August 11, 1990

"In Denver, he’s best known as the executive director of the Denver Commission on Community Relations from 1967 to 1983. He’s often credited as the man who was so respected within Denver’s ethnic enclaves that he prevented the city from going up in flames of riot during the summer of 1967, when racial tensions ripped apart many other US cities. He’s remembered locally as a tireless fighter for civil rights and an energetic participant in numerous causes and non-profit organizations.

But that’s his Denver-area reputation. Nationally, and especially within the Japanese American community, he’s better-known as one of just three men who challenged the 1942 executive order that led to the imprisonment of 120,000 people of Japanese heritage in internment camps during World War II.

His story’s just not told often enough:

Min Yasui grew up in Hood River, Oregon, the son of a very successful produce grower. The 1939 graduate of the University of Oregon Law School was well-known in the Portland area as the first JA attorney. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was working in Chicago for the Japanese consulate. His father advised Yasui to quit his job and join the Army, but immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, all Japanese Americans were declared enemy aliens and ineligible for US military service.

Upon his return to Portland, Yasui set out to challenge President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. He flouted the curfew that kept anyone of Japanese descent off the streets after 8 pm, and walked up to a policemen at 11 pm on March 28, 1942 and demanded to be arrested. When he was rebuffed by the cop, who simply told him to go home, he marched into the local police station and was finally jailed.

He spent the next few months in a relocation center near Portland, then at the internment camp at Minidoka, Idaho. In November of 1942, the judge in his case agreed with Yasui and ruled that the curfew order was unconstitutional because it affected American citizens. But the judge also ruled that because Yasui had worked for the Japanese consulate, he had forfeited his American citizenship and was guilty of violating the curfew. An appeal was decided the next year by the US Supreme Court, which ruled that American citizens could be subjected to curfews, and but that Yasui had not forfeited his citizenship by working for the Japanese government.

Yasui’s sentence was reduced and he was released from solitary confinement in prison and sent back to Minidoka. His conviction for breaking curfew remained on the books until it was finally vacated in 1984. The famous cases that overturned his conviction along with the convictions of Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi, the two other men who challenged Executive Order 9066, were instrumental in gaining the 1987 government apology and redress for Japanese Americans affected by internment.

Yasui moved to Denver in 1944, after a brief stay in Chicago where he worked odd jobs. He passed the Colorado bar exam with one of the highest scores that year but was denied a admission to the bar because of his criminal conviction. With the help of the ACLU, he was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1946, the same year he married True Shibata, who was from California but relocated to Denver after her release from the Amache Relocation Camp in Granada, Colorado. Along with his efforts in civil rights in Denver, Yasui was a powerful force behind the JA redress movement of the 1970s and ’80s.

Min died just three years after his name was finally cleared, but by then his stellar reputation in Denver had long been set. In 1976, he was honored with the establishment of the Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Awards. In 1999 the city of Denver honored him again, by dedicating in his name the very building he worked in for years, as director of what is now called the city of Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations.

The University of Oregon, Yasui’s alma mater, gave True Yasui a 2002 Meritorious Service Award, given each year to recipients who have made extraordinary contributions to legal education and the law. The school also announced the Minoru Yasui Endowed Chair, which will brings noted attorneys working in human rights to the university as professors. Yasui was the first Japanese American graduate of the U of O in 1939; he’s also the first-ever Asian American name to grace an endowed chair for any law school in the country.

Min Yasui’s legacy is evident nationwide, especially every time that war and political crises boost the profile of racial hatred and prejudice (like in the months following the 9/11 attacks, when the internment of Arab Americans was raised as a possibility by some).

And in Denver, Yasui’s other legacy — his commitment to volunteerism — lives on in the MYCVA recipients, who are named every month and then feted with a banquet to honor them every December." (excerpted from (visit link) and (visit link) )

More information about Mr. Yasui may be found at (visit link) , (visit link) and (visit link) .
Group or Groups Responsible for Placement:
Japanese Community of Denver

County or City: Denver

Date Dedicated: Unknown

Check here for Web link(s) for additional information: Not listed

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