ALLENDALE, Mich. (WZZM) -- He was a champion for civil rights beginning in World War II. Now, he's the first Asian American recognized by a state with a day named in his honor.

Grand Valley State University celebrated Fred Korematsu's legacy Thursday night with a series of speakers, including his daughter, Karen Korematsu.

Fred Korematsu refused to report to an interment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where he lost in a 6-3 decision. That conviction was overturned in 1983, and he was later awarded the Medal of Freedom.

"This is truly an American story," said Karen Korematsu. "You're fighting for your civil rights. Not for just yourself, but for a whole group of people. For his own Japanese American community, even though they had vilified him for taking a stand."

Korematsu Day will be celebrated this year in Michigan on January 30, which is his birthday. His daughter is working for it to become a holiday every year.