Yuri Kochiyama – USA

Linked with The National Women History Project NWHP.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

A daughter of Japanese immigrants, Yuri Kochiyama (born 1921) grew up in California. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her life changed dramatically in 1942 when people of Japanese ancestry in the USA were sent to internment camps. After World War II, she joined movements for civil rights and black liberation in New York City; she opposed US imperialism and supported radical grassroots organizations and political prisoners. She has spoken out for racial justice and human rights for over 40 years. (1000Peacewomen).

She says: “Don’t become too narrow. Live fully. Meet all kinds of people. You’ll learn something from everyone. Follow what you feel in your heart”.

Unitarians schedule Labor Day program: … The civil rights activist, feminist, and author Yuri Kochiyama and her family were among the 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast who were rounded up and confined in camps in a wave of anti-Japanese hysteria that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor … (full text, Aug 29, 2008).

BLACK HISTORY MONTH – Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama, Feb 1, 2007.


Yuri Kochiyama – USA

She works 1) for the Organization for Afro-American Unity (named on AfricanAmericans.com; on wikipedia; on Answers.com; on Britannica online Encyclopedia; on wordpress.com); 2) for the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners (mentionned in the NYT), and 3) for Asian Americans for Action (there exist: Asian American Action Fund and its AAA Fund Blog; Media Action Network for Asian Americans; Asian American Action Figure Home Page; Asian American support for affirmative action).

Recognizing APA Community Organizers: … Yuri Kochiyama, Ling-chi Wang, Thomas Abraham, Gloria Caoile and Sandy Dang are just a few of the community organizers who have made a difference in the lives of the APA community over the last thirty years who have never held elective office … (full text, Sept. 10, 2008).

Asian/ APIA Feminism/ Women’s History Month, March 1, 2008.

Find Yuri Kochiyama on video: Freedom Fighters trailer, 6.31 min, added: February 14, 2007; on the blog Learn to question.com; on the blog 100 voices her video as Freedom Fighter, with transcript in japanese; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search.

… “A story Ms. Kochiyama is often asked to retell is how she first met Malcolm X in Harlem. Ms. Kochiyama had been an admirer of Malcolm X for sometime when she happened to see him walk into a courthouse in Brooklyn, where he was instantly surrounded by people shaking his hand. Ms. Kochiyama was shy at first of approaching him amongst all his African followers, but when he met her eyes she found herself asking if she could shake his hand. “What for?” Malcolm had asked, almost suspiciously. When Ms. Kochiyama finally answered, “You’re giving direction [to your people]”, Malcolm strode out of the crowd with a smile, and shook Ms. Kochiyama’s hand” … (full text).

She says also: … “My mother kept asking the army authorities if they could let my father come home until he got better and then they could take him back again. The following week, on January 20, we got word that they were going to send him home and we were so happy. But they sent him home because they knew he was dying. And he came home in the evening and by the morning, the next day, 12 hours later, he was gone. And then, of course, the FBI called and said if anyone comes to the funeral, they would be under surveillance and there was already a five mile travel ban [for Japanese people]. But a lot of our Japanese friends came to the funeral. And of course, sure enough, the FBI was there looking everybody over” … (full interview text).

… Married shortly after leaving camp, her husband Bill Kochiyama was a veteran of the 442 Regimental Combat Team. They moved to New York City and in 1960, with their six children, chose to settle in the Harlem projects among the Latino and Black families. In these new surroundings, at the age of 40, she joined neighborhood parents in a grassroots movement for safer streets. In 1963, she was arrested while demonstrating for construction jobs for African Americans and Puerto Ricans. While in court, she had the opportunity to meet Malcolm X. She later joined his Organization for Afro-American Unity and became a follower of his internationalist concept of human rights and nationalism based on self-determination and self-reliance.. His murder in 1965 intensified her commitment to work for the dignity and equality of all people of color. (full text, Nov. 20, 2005).

Yuri Kochiyama, born May 19, 1921 as Mary Nakahara in San Pedro, California, is a Japanese American human rights activist. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Kochiyama’s father was imprisoned the same day. Her family, sent to a camp in Jerome, Arkansas, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome,_Arkansas were among the 120,000 Japanese Americans interned during the second world war. Two of her brothers joined the US Army. In 1960, Kochiyama and her husband Bill moved to Harlem, New York City, and joined the Harlem Parents Committee. She became acquainted with Malcolm X and became a member of his Organization of Afro-American Unity, following his departure from the Nation of Islam. She was present at his assassination on February 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, and held him in her arms as he lay dying. In 1977, Kochiyama joined the group of Puerto Ricans that took over the Statue of Liberty to draw attention to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. Over the years, Kochiyama has dedicated herself to various causes, such as the rights of political prisoners, freeing Mumia Abu-Jamal, nuclear disarmament, and reparations to Japanese Americans who were interned during the war. Kochiyama was the subject of the documentary film, Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice (1999), from Japanese American filmmaker Rea Tajiri. She is also the subject of a play, Yuri and Malcolm X, by Japanese American playwright, Tim Toyama … (full text).

… Highlights from Shades of Power include “A Passion for Justice: Yuri Kochiyama,” a 60-minute documentary on the lifelong organizing of a Japanese American woman who worked closely with Malcolm X, the Young Lords, and the Black Panthers.  Her stories evidence the strong bonds that were made in the 60’s when political/social/economic struggles came to a forefront of popular culture: … (full text, 1999).

And she says: … The date was February 21. It was a Sunday. Well, prior to that date, I think that whole week there was a lot of rumors going on in Harlem that something might happen to Malcolm. But I think Malcolm showed all along, especially around that time, that there were rumors going on. He was aware, because there were things even in the newspaper, that there was some, I think—I don’t know if it was a misunderstanding or just disagreeing about some things that Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm were talking about. They were personal things. But Malcolm was aware that Elijah seemed to be feeling a little—what would be—oh, I’m so sorry that I’m messing this up—but on some very personal issues, there was disagreement between Elijah and Malcolm, and I think there was even talk that was going on, and after the assassination, however, many black people felt it could have been by people who had infiltrated or that the police department and F.B.I. may have actually planted in the Nation of Islam … (full interview text).


Freedom Fighters on wikipedia;

Political Prisoners on wikipedia;

In Defense of the Rights of Political Prisoners, May 16, 2002;

the Google book: The New York Intellectuals, 1987, 440 pages;

The video: Kelly Hu and Rhuchi speaks at the Asian American Action Fund, 1.20 min, added June 17, 2008;

Ohlone Women Elders Project, Restoring a California Legacy;

More Comments and Questions for Your Classmates, December 18, 2007;

Categories on wikipedia: Japanese Americans; American human rights activists; American civil rights activists; Japanese American internees; Political prisoners and victims; Imprisonment and detention.

Comments are closed.