Ellison S. Onizuka was the first Asian American in space. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and had received many Medals before he joined NASA. As an astronaut, his first mission was on the Discovery 51-C which was the first shuttle mission flown exclusively for the US Department of Defense. His job was to control the satellite and collect data of the Earth's surface. He died on January 28, 1986 in the Challenger explosion after the launch.
On June 23, 1982 in Detroit, Chrysler plant supervisor Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz cornered a young man named Vincent Chin at the local bar. They mistook him as a Japanese automobile worker, blamed him for the loss of their jobs, and then bashed his head open with a baseball bat. During court, they pleaded to manslaughter and were only sentenced to three years of probation and fined $3000. The Asian-American community became outraged by the easy sentences and went on protests and rallies. They established the American Citizens for Justice organization that was successful in covering the story in the media, raising funds, and appealing to government officials. It was one of the most successful organizations in guaranteeing Asian-Americans' rights.
Passed and signed by President Ronald Reagan on August 10, 1988
“The Congress recognizes that, as described in the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, a grave injustice was done to both citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry by the evacuation, relocation, and internment of civilians during World War II.
As the Commission documents, these actions were carried out without adequate security reasons and without any acts of espionage or sabotage documented by the Commission, and were motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.
The excluded individuals of Japanese ancestry suffered enormous damages, both material and intangible, and there were incalculable losses in education and job training, all of which resulted in significant human suffering for which appropriate compensation has not been made.
For these fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of these individuals of Japanese ancestry, the Congress apologizes on behalf of the Nation.”
Based on the findings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC), the purposes of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 with respect to persons of Japanese ancestry included the following:
1) To acknowledge the fundamental injustice of the evacuation, relocation and internment of citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World War II;
2) To apologize on behalf of the people of the United States for the evacuation, internment, and relocations of such citizens and permanent residing aliens;
3) To provide for a public education fund to finance efforts to inform the public about the internment so as to prevent the recurrence of any similar event;
4) To make restitution to those individuals of Japanese ancestry who were interned;
5) To make more credible and sincere any declaration of concern by the United States over violations of human rights committed by other nations.
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 addressed the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. After the detailed study done by a congressional commission, the conclusion was that the internment of American citizens based on ethnicity was not fair. The Act offered a formal apology and paid each survivor $20,000. There was extra funds put into the public education system to educate Americans about the internment to prevent it in the future. The Act was an attempt for the United States to look credible by taking action for violating human rights in the past.