Skip to main content

 photo Yuri_zps6be326f8.jpg

Now she has passed on.

Rest in Peace. Yuri Kochiyama.  

May 19, 1921 to June 1, 2014.

She was a daughter, mother, grandmother, friend, mentor, activist and powerful example to so many people whose lives she touched during her long life.

The following video was made before her death.

Yuri Kochiyama is a tireless political activist who has dedicated her life to contributing to social change through her participation in social justice and human rights movements.
She was born and raised in San Pedro, California but spent two years in a concentration camp in Jerome, Arkansas during World War II. Following the war, she moved to New York and married Bill Kochiyama, veteran of the all-Japanese American 442nd combat unit of the U.S. Army.

Yuri’s activism started in Harlem in the early 1960’s, where she participated in the Asian American, Black and Third World movements for civil and human rights, ethnic studies, and against the war in Vietnam. In 1963, she met Malcolm X. Their friendship and political alliance changed her life and outlook. She joined his group, the Organization for Afro-American Unity, to work for racial justice and human rights. Yuri was present on the day he was tragically shot and killed in 1965. In the Life magazine article “Death of Malcolm X,” she can be seen crouched in the background, cradling Malcolm X’s head.

In the 1980’s, Yuri worked in the redress and reparations movement for Japanese-Americans along with her husband Bill. Support for political prisoners – African American, Puerto Rican, Native American, Asian American, and progressive whites – has been a consistent thread in her work.

She has also won numerous awards, spoken at over 100 schools and colleges throughout the country, and has been featured in several books, films (including Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice and My America: Honk if You Love Buddha) and a television documentary in 2001 (Cool Women – directed by Debbie Allen – as one of several segments on a diverse array of women in the United States). UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center published her memoirs entitled Passing It On in 2004. A biography on Yuri’s Life, called Heartbeat of the Struggle, was written in 2005.

She is the mother of six children, and has nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

(Source: adapted from a biography provided by the Kochiyama family)

Actress Sandra Oh reads the speech given by Yuri Kochiyama who was held in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Part of a reading from Voices of a People's History of the United States given October 5, 2005 in Los Angeles California (Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove.)
Densho Encyclopedia has a full biography of her incredible life journey and a series of video interviews with Yuri.

There are many tributes to her pouring in.

You can leave your thoughts and comments on this facebook page.


Elaine Woo for the LA Times. "Yuri Kochiyama dies at 93; civil rights activist, friend of Malcolm X"

NY Times.


I have written about Yuri here on Daily Kos as one of my Sheroes. She spent her life adopting young activists, and became like a mom to many of us in the movement in NYC in the late 60's and 70's.

No coincidence that she inspired young hip-hop artists like Blue Scholars.

"When I grow up I want to be just like Yuri Kochiyama"

Originally posted to Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 06, 2014 at 03:48 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, LatinoKos, White Privilege Working Group, Way of Dragon, and APA Kos : Asian/Pacific Americans at DailyKos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site