Dale Minami

Dale Minami was born in Los Angeles in 1946 and majored in political science at the University of Southern California. His family was forcibly removed to Rohwer concentration camp during World War II, and during college, Minami’s interest in the wartime incarceration grew as a result of the civil rights movement and his growing ethnic consciousness. He received a law degree at Berkeley Law during a formative time of anti-war, counterculture, civil rights, and ethnic studies movements in the San Francisco Bay Area. After he graduated, Minami and fellow Asian American law students and graduates started a collective to help poor Asian Americans in the Bay Area. He then opened the first legal services non-profit for Asian Americans in the U.S. in 1972. The Asian Law Caucus represented clients and also raised public awareness about discrimination and went on to form their own firm in 1975. In 1981, documents were discovered in the National Archives proving that government lawyers during World War II had intentionally suppressed and altered evidence in Fred Korematsu’s Supreme Court Case, Korematsu v. United States, which challenged the incarceration of Japanese Americans. Minami became lead attorney on the case ultimately led to Korematsu’s exoneration and a public statement by the court that condemned the racist exclusion orders. He is a co-founder of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, the first Asian American Bar Association in the United States; the Asian Pacific Bar of California; and the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans, one of the nation's first political action committees focused on Asian American candidates and issues.

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