Yuri Kochiyama was 20 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and her family was relocated to an internment camp. When she emerged, she moved to Harlem and became an outspoken activist who rallied for the rights of women, ethnic minorities, homosexuals and political prisoners, and formed a tight friendship with Malcolm X. “I didn’t wake up and decide to become an activist,” she said. “But you couldn’t help notice the injustices. It was all around you.” She passed away on June 1 in Berkeley. We look at her life and legacy as a civil rights leader.
Yuri Kochiyama recalls her friendship with Malcolm X. She witnessed his assassination, and cradled his head as he died.
Diane C. Fujino, professor of Asian American studies and director of the Center for Black Studies Research at UC Santa Barbara and author of "Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama"
Akemi Kochiyama, granddaughter of Yuri Kochiyama who helped her grandmother write her memoir, "Passing It On"