Watch: Dale Minami Accepts Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award from APAICS

Dale Minami. Photo by Lia Chang

In May, the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) honored Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami with the Inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award during its Virtual APAICS 27th Anniversary Awards Gala Dinner.

The Award was renamed this year to reflect the outstanding contributions made by Norman Y. Mineta over a lifetime of public service.  “Receiving an award named after one of my heroes is a singular honor,” said Minami.

There’s nothing like receiving the award from the person that the award is named for. Watch the remarks by Norman Y. Mineta and Dale Minami below. 

The APAICS’ Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a prominent Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) individual in the community. APAICS honored Minami with the award to recognize his service in devoting a lifetime to breaking down stereotypes and advocating for the AAPI community.

“You have continuously fought for the protection of the rights of people who have historically been discriminated against,” wrote APAICS President and CEO Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke to Minami. “We hope to celebrate the work that you have done and continue to do.”

Dale Minami. Photo by Lia Chang

Dale Minami is a lifelong champion of the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other people of color. Minami is best known for leading the legal team that overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu, an American of Japanese descent who was arrested for refusing to enter an incarceration center in 1942. Korematsu’s case led to the historic challenge of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II in the case Korematsu v. United States. In 2019, Minami was the first Asian American to receive The ABA Medal in its 90-year history.

Minami was key to obtaining judicial recognition that the evacuation and incarceration of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II was unjust and illegal. Although the Supreme Court in 1944 upheld the constitutionality of the incarceration in Korematsu v. United States, Minami and his team successfully challenged that ruling 40 years later.

With documents discovered in 1981 from the National Archives that demonstrated that government officials knowingly used false evidence to justify its exclusion order, Minami assembled the legal team that petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to vacate the conviction of Korematsu and was the Coordinating Attorney initially for two other challenges to the military orders filed by Minoru Yasui in Portland and Gordon Hirabayashi in Seattle. Serving as lead counsel for Korematsu in 1983, Minami and his team prevailed in voiding the conviction while the legal teams for Hirabayashi and Yasui overturned their convictions in separate cases.

Fred Korematsu (seated, center) at a 1983 press conference announcing the reopening of his wartime Supreme Court case, the subject of a LATW-commissioned audio play, “For Us All” by Jeanne Sakata. Also pictured are attorneys Dale Minami (seated, left), Peter Irons (seated, right), Don Tamaki (standing, left), Dennis Hayashi (standing, center) and Lori Bannai (standing, right). Photo: Crystal K.D. Huie / via MTYKL Foundation

In 2017, Minami and other attorneys from the Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui legal teams joined the legal team led by the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality and Akin Gump LLP, representing the adult children of Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court review of the government’s travel ban, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s explicit repudiation of the 1944 Korematsu decision via its review of Trump v. Hawaii.

Jeanne Sakata, Dale Minami, Lia Chang, Tim Patterson. Photo by Lia Chang

On the first Friday in July, I joined Jeanne Sakata, her husband, Tim Patterson and Dale Minami for lunch at Aliment in San Francisco. Sakata was in town for the closing night performance of San Francisco Playhouse’s production of her play, Hold These Truths, which follows the story of Gordon Hirabayashi. She recently penned a new Audio Play, For Us All, commissioned by L.A. Theatre Works, which focuses on Minami and the other attorneys who worked to overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu.

Jeanne Sakata and Dale Minami. Photo by Lia Chang

Due to the pandemic, any research Sakata needed to do for the play had to be done virtually. This lunch was the first time for Sakata and Minami to touch base after the L.A. Theatre Works premiere of For Us All.

Jeanne Sakata and Dale Minami. Photo by Lia Chang

L.A. Theatre Works Premieres Jeanne Sakata’s New Audio Play, FOR US ALL, Featuring Greg Watanabe, Derek Mio, Joy Osmanski, Paul Yen, Josh Stamberg, Brooke Ishibashi, Tess Lina, André Sogliuzzo, Mike McShane and Ed Asner

Founded by former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta in 1994, APAICS is a national non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office.

Photos: Closing Night of San Francisco Playhouse’s Production of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS 

Lia Chang and Dale Minami. Photo by Jeanne Sakata

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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