Defining Moments: Frank Murphy, Fred Korematsu, and the Internment of Japanese Americans During World War II

Michigan Government Television presents a package of curriculum materials dealing with the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, with the U.S. Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. U.S. Government, and with the dissenting opinion in that case of Michigan's Frank Murphy, a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

These materials tell the story of Fred Korematsu, a second generation Japanese-American or nisei, who was working as a welder in the San Francisco shipyards when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and of Frank Murphy, former Detroit mayor and Michigan governor, who was a U.S. Supreme Court justice at the same defining moment. Their lives crossed because of the involuntary internment of Japanese Americans in camps following the Pearl Harbor attack and the resulting Supreme Court case that bears Korematsu's name. Korematsu v. U.S. Government is a case that demonstrates how the dry and sometimes nearly unintelligible language of the courts, of our government at work, can translate into profound effects on the people of this country.

Michigan Government Television


Lesson Title Grade Band
Defining Moments Lesson 1: Framing the Problem
Through this lesson plan, students will understand that there are various ways to frame a problem; understand that several people may look at the same problem; the same set of ...
Defining Moments Lesson 2: Analyzing Data
Through this lesson plan, students will create a search strategy to find information about the Japanese American Internment and the Korematsu case; use a variety of information technologies, including print ...
Defining Moments Lesson 3: Making a Decision
Through this lesson plan, students will use the spreadsheet below (spreadsheet is embedded as a Microsoft Excel object) to determine policy options, establish criteria for the solution, weight the criteria ...
Defining Moments Lesson 4: Biographical Comparison
Through this lesson plan, students will determine key factors in lives of individuals studied; graphically compare the individuals' lives using a matrix and timeline; compare and contrast the lives of ...
Defining Moments Lesson 5: Personal Decision Making
Through this lesson plan, students will understand how families, individuals and communities were impacted by internment; make personal decisions about preparing for relocation; compare differences among generations in facing a ...
Defining Moments Lesson 6: The "Yellow" Peril
Through this lesson plan, students will discuss what happened on the west coast of the United States in 1942 from the perspective of either Japanese and Japanese Americans or their ...
Defining Moments Lesson Plan Extension Ideas
This unit includes other activities that students might complete to gain further understanding of the concepts and events encountered in Defining Moments.
Defining Moments Unit Lesson Plans
To expose students to a troubling period in U.S. history, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two. The goal is for students to understand the hows and ...

Lessons in this unit cover the following:

Grade Bands:


Integrated Subjects:

history, socstud, langarts



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