The Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA) announced the winners for this year’s Minoru Yasui Award and Ralph Carr Award. Each year during its banquet, APABA and the APABA Foundation award the Minoru Yasui Community Service Award. The award goes to an individual or group whose community service exemplifies the achievement of Mr. Yasui, who challenged the laws applied to Japanese Americans during World War II and advocated for civil rights and liberties for American citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity.
APABA is proud to honor Kenzo Kawanabe, partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, as the winner of this year’s Minoru Yasui Award. Kawanabe is recognized for his consistent willingness to assume responsibility and leadership in the community. Examples of Kawanabe’s community service include his recent work with the Colorado Lawyers Committee in the groundbreaking case, Lobato v. State of Colorado, and his service on the board of numerous non-profit organizations, including the APABA Foundation.
APABA is also delighted to present the Ralph Carr Award to Harry Budisidharta, partner at Balaban Claeson & Budisidharta, LLP. Budisidharta’s extensive commitment to public service started with his years at the Colorado Public Defender’s Office. Since starting his own law firm, he has continued his commitment and service to the community, volunteering with the Asian Pacific Development Center, offering pro bono legal advice to the local Burmese community, serving as co-counsel in a class action lawsuit against Swift meat packing plant for unlawful termination of its Muslim-Somali employees, and protecting the right to free speech of two Occupy Denver protesters.
The Governor Ralph Carr Award is awarded to a young APABA attorney, defined as an attorney in 10 years of practice or less, who has exhibited a commitment to public service through public sector work or a substantial commitment to community service. When the Government decided to resettle Japanese Americans from the West Coast in a camp at Amache near Granada, Colorado, Governor Carr went against popular anti-Japanese sentiment by urging Coloradans to welcome the evacuees. In a speech defending the rights of the displaced Japanese-Americans, Carr said:
“If you harm them, you must harm me. I was brought up in a small town where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened the happiness of you and you and you.”
Kawanabe and Budisidharta were honored on April 13 at Palace Chinese Restaurant. For more information about the award recipients or APABA, please visit www.apaba-co.org.