Japanese American human rights activist and a longtime Oakland resident Yuri Kochiyama passed away yesterday June 1st, 2014 at the age of 93. [NPR] [Democracy Now] Yuri Kochiyama was known for her activism since the 1960’s, her comradeship with Malcolm X (she’s the mysterious Asian lady holding Malcolm’s head when he was assassinated on February 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, pictured in Time magazine), her later activist work with the Puerto Rican independence movement, reparations for Japanese interment camp survivors, political prisoners rights (like the Free Mumia movement and the San Francisco 8 case), the nuclear disarmament movement, and many other social and environmental actions.
Yuri Kochiyama was a pioneer of the then infant Asian American movement. She, along with her contemporaries (Grace Lee Boggs, Richard Aoki, Fred Ho, I Wor Kuen, and others) brought their activists experience to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s and the Black Liberation movement of the 1970’s to the Asian American movement, showing by example the importance of building solidarity between people of color and various marginalized groups in the quest for social and economic justice. Yuri Kochiyama’s work will live on to inspire future generations of human rights activists.
Below are some interviews, documentaries, and a tribute song by Seattle Hip-Hop duo Blue Scholars.
Democracy Now: Yuri Kochiyama on her Internment in WWII Japanese American Detention Camp & Malcolm X Assassination (2008)
Yuri Kochiyama: On Knowing Malcolm X – Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, May 16, 2008
Mountains That Take Wing: Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama (2009)
Talk Story w/Yuri Kochiyama (2006)
Yuri Kochiyama at SFSU’s 40th Anniversary panel commemorating the 1968 Third World Student Strike at SFSU (2008)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus – AAPI Civil Rights Heroes – Yuri Kochiyama
Blue Scholars “Yuri Kochiyama” (Live on KEXP)