APABA Hosts Annual Minoru Yasui Banquet

April 7, 2006

Today, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado hosted its Annual Minoru Yasui Banquet at the King’s Land Restaurant in Denver.  Each year the Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA) of Colorado and the Colorado Asian American Pacific Bar Foundation also honors an individual or organization whose goal of community service exemplifies the achievement of Mr. Yasui.  This year’s winner is Fay M. Matsukage.  Ms Matsukage began her career more than 25 years ago after graduating from the University of Denver School of Law in 1979.  She is a partner with Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker & Hutchings, P.C. where she is a superb securities and corporate attorney.  While her practice and reputation in the legal community is outstanding, it is her selfless commitment to the local community and the Bar that exemplifies the achievements of Mr. Yasui.In 1980, Ms. Matsukage was one of the first Asian-American women attorneys to be admitted to practice before the courts in Colorado.  Since then, she has committed countless hours volunteering in our legal community and the community at large.  Her commitment to the Asian community in Colorado is unparalleled.  Ms. Matsukage was a founding member of the Asian Pacific Bar Association of Colorado and the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute.  She is on the Board of Directors for the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado and the Colorado Asian Pacific American Bar Foundation.  She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Asian Pacific Development Center.  Ms. Matsukage has also served the legal community at large by serving on the Denver Bar Association Board of Trustees, serving as vice President for the Colorado Bar Association, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Woman’s Bar Association foundation Fellow.  In 1999, she was recognized by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association with its Trailblazer Award and in 2006 the Colorado Women’s Bar Association will award her the Mary Lathrop Award.In addition to the Annual Minoru Yasui Community Service Award, APABA also annually gives the Anheuser-Busch Minoru Yasui Memorial Scholarships to two law students, each from Colorado Law School and University of Denver School of Law.  This year’s winners are Jennifer Kim from Colorado Law School and Yoon Kim from University of Denver School of Law.  The Anheuser-Busch Minoru Yasui Memorial Scholarship was founded with three goals in mind:  (1) To honor the memory of Minoru Yasui and his many contributions to the Denver Community; (2) To recognize and reward individuals who have, through their commitment to bettering their communities, continued Mr. Yasui’s work of promoting civil rights and community activities; and (3) to recognize law students who have likewise, dedicated themselves to public service.  Another annual scholarship was set up this year called Aisenberg Leadership Award, in an effort to give assistance to those students who are in leadership positions and need financial assistance.  Joan Kim was the winner this year and the scholarship proceeds will help her with the travel expenses entailed by her current Secretary position at the National Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. Minoru Yasui (1916-1986) Minoru Yasui was a long-time Colorado attorney, civil rights activist, and community leader.  He was born and raised in Hood River, Oregon, and earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Oregon.During World War II, the U.S. Government interned Mr. Yasui.  After his release, he practiced law in Denver.  Throughout his legal career, Mr. Yasui worked devotedly to challenge the discriminatory treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  He challenged the curfew order imposed on all persons of Japanese descent on the West Coast.  After his conviction for violation of the curfew order, he appealed his conviction which eventually was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.  His case was consolidated with the landmark case United States v. Hirabayashi.  Years after his conviction, he filed a writ of coram nobis to vindicate his name.  Unfortunately, with his death in 1986, his writ was dismissed by the Court.  However, his work in the redress movement was instrumental in brining about the vindication he sought for himself and all Japanese-Americans.Mr. Yasui’s commitment was not limited to the Japanese-American community.  He was a founding member of the Urban League of Denver, the Latin American research and Services Agency, and the Denver Native American United.  He also served as the Executive director of the Denver Commission on Community Relations and in that capacity continued to focus on issues affecting Denver’s African American, Hispanic, Native American and Asian American communities.  On March 1, 1999, the city and County of Denver honored him and his lifetime accomplishments by naming the building at 303 West Colfax Avenue as the Minoru Yasui Plaza.And if I, as an American citizen stood still for this, I would be derogating the rights of all citizens.  By god, I had to stand up and say “That’s wrong.”~ Minoru Yasui ~