In perhaps one of the timeliest tributes ever, Google honored civil rights activist Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu Monday on what would have been his 98th birthday. A Japanese American, Korematsu was arrested and convicted for refusing to comply with government orders to enter an internment camp in 1942 at the age of only 23. 

Korematsu was resisting Executive Order 9066, signed by then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which resulted in more than 115,000 people of Japanese descent being sent to internment camps.  Upon his conviction, Korematsu managed to appeal his case to the Supreme Court, where in 1944, they ruled against him, saying his incarceration was justified due to military necessity.

“If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up,” Korematsu is remembered as saying.

A professor named Peter Irons, along with researcher Aiko Herzik-Yoshinaga, unearthed documents in 1988 that showed the government had no justification for the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. The two, in conjunction with a pro-bono legal team, managed to get Korematsu’s convicted overturned 40 years after he was arrested.

“[Korematsu] stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability,” wrote the judge who overturned his conviction, Marilyn Hall Patel. “It stands as a caution that in times of international hostility and antagonisms our institutions, legislative, executive and judicial, must be prepared to exercise their authority to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused.”

Korematsu went on to continue his activism until he died in 2005. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 from President Bill Clinton and the Fred Korematsu Institute now exists to educate the public about racial equality, social justice and human rights. His birthday was designed Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution through the passage of a bill in 2010 in California, and is now recognized in Hawaii, Florida and Virginia.