2015 March 16

California Supreme Court Grants Law License to Hong Yen Chang, Denied License in 1890


The California Supreme Court on this day reversed a 125-year old wrong by granting a law license to Hong Yen Chang, who had been denied a license in 1890 simply because he was a Japanese-American. The Court acknowledged that the denial of his license was a “sordid chapter” in California history. Chang never practices law, but had a successful career as a banker. He died in Berkeley, California, in 1926. Faculty and students at the University of California at Davis Law School took up his case in 2011, and fought for the posthumous granting of the law license.

The most notorious mistreatment of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. was the evacuation and internment of Japanese-Americans on the west coast during World War II. The program was authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Executive Order 9066, which he signed on February 19, 1942.

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