In 1981 Yuri Kochiyama participated in the Community Documentation Workshop, and produced two zines about her life. Vol. 1 deals with her family origins, World War II, her marriage to Bill Kochiyama, and her move to New York City with him. Vol. 2 covers the Civil Rights era, meeting Malcolm X & Amiri Baraka, and the birth of the Asian American Movement.
Statement from UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center on Yuri Kochiyama’s recent passing (received via email):
Dear Alumni and Friends,
We received word of the passing of Yuri Kochiyama who touched and inspired the lives of thousands of people through her decades-long activism and incredible dedication to social justice.
The Kochiyama Family has issued a brief statement:
“Life-long activist Yuri Kochiyama passed away peacefully in her sleep in Berkeley, California on the morning of Sunday, June 1 at the age of 93. Over a span of more than 50 years, Yuri worked tirelessly for social and political change through her activism in support of social justice and civil and human rights movements. Yuri was born on May 19, 1921 in San Pedro, California and spent two years in a concentration camp in Jerome, Arkansas during World War II. After the war, she moved to New York City and married Bill Kochiyama, a decorated 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 Harlem Freedom Schools, and later, the African American, Asian American and Third World movements for civil and human rights and in the opposition against the Vietnam War. In 1963, she met Malcolm X. Their friendship and political alliance radically changed her life and perspective. She joined his group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, to work for racial justice and human rights. Over the course of her life, Yuri was actively involved in various movements for ethnic studies, redress and reparations for Japanese Americans, African Americans and Native Americans, political prisoners’ rights, Puerto Rican independence and many other struggles.
Yuri is survived by her living children — Audee, Eddie, Jimmy and Tommy, grandchildren — Zulu, Akemi, Herb, Ryan, Traci, Maya, Aliya, Christopher, and Kahlil and great-grandchildren — Kai, Leilani, Kenji, Malia and Julia.”
Yuri Kochiyama’s stint as a scholar in residence at UCLA in 1998 enriched the life of our Center and the campus. Those connections deepened as we were honored to work with her on the publication of her memoir, Passing It On (UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 2004). The Center is also honored to house some of Yuri Kochiyama’s papers relating to the Asian American movement. We are grateful to be part of preserving her legacy for future generations.
Our condolences go out to her family and friends. Rest in power and peace.
David K. Yoo
Director & Professor
Rest in Peace & Power, Ms. Kochiyama.
Time and time again, I’ve heard folks share memories ranging from the 1960s to the past 10 years of the way she invited them into her home, into meetings, into dialogue and encouraged them to contribute to the movement as their authentic selves, in whatever ways they could. Yuri Kochiyama’s work taught me that it’s the relationships we form, the love for each other that comes first. It’s recognizing and fighting for each others’ humanity and dignity, because it’s the right thing to do. Because our lives and our liberation are intricately bound together. In the words of Blue Scholars,
“Revolutionaries die, but the revolution don’t
And it won’t and I put that
On my momma
Cuz when I grow up I wanna be just like Yuri Kochiyama”
Thank you for your work and your love, Yuri.
"Asians Make Waves to Alcatraz…" from Gidra, March 1970.
“‘Japanese Americans Support Native Americans’ were the words on a a huge banner which expressed support by the Japanese American community of the brave Native Americans on Alcatraz. On February 14, about twenty of us of various ages, 15 to 60 sailed to Alcatraz to personalize the Japanese American Citizens League Committee to Repeal Title II’s sincere concern for our Third World brothers.”
"Asian Women as Leaders" in Roots: An Asian American Reader (UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1971). Reprinted from Rodan (Northern California Asian American Community News, April 1971).
Page 2 (not printed in Roots, text found in Asian Women journal [Berkeley, 1971]):
-tions, they find that their ideas are usurped by the men, who then take credit for the idea as being their own. Women are often heard but not listened to. Many times the women must play her old role in order to get things done: “Oh, please, can you help me carry this. It’s much too heavy for little old me…”
How can these problems be solved: People must recognize that women are half of the working force in the movement against oppression, exploitation, and imperialism. They are half of the working force in creating the new revolutionary lifestyle. Men and women in the movement must therefore begin to live the ideals and goals they are working for. To do this, they must not let chauvinist acts slide by. People cannot work together effectively if there are hidden tensions or if people let little annoyances build up inside themselves. They must deal with sexism on the same basis as they would deal with racism and imperialism. They must be able to develop as human beings, not subject to categorizations and stereotypes. Developing as people confident in themselves, in their ideas, they will not be afraid of criticism; they will see the need for criticism, self-criticism in order to move forward. The struggle is not men against women or women against men, but it is a united front striving for a new society, a new way of life.
If I go forward,
Push me if I fall behind.
If I betray you,
If they take me,
Avenge me then in kind.
"from a lotus blossom cunt" by Tomi Tanaka from Roots: An Asian American Reader (UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1971). Reprinted from Gidra newspaper (July 1971).
The popular practice on the internet where Asian American activists demand other Asian Americans check their privilege in such a unilateral manner is like driving down a one way street and saying Asians are the worst drivers. You do this from the security of your air conditioning, in the hopes that everyone else notices what a good driver you are.
Nevermind that maybe you’re born into a family that can afford a nicer, faster car than the other Asians you’re criticizing, or that you have no problem interpreting the language and symbols on the signs. Nevermind that you cruise by without fear of being pulled over, asked for your papers, deported, or shot. You assume since you were born with cruise control, all other Asians were too.
You can say these things on a one way street because the only time you need to make eye contact with the people you’re speaking about is when you’re passing them by.” —Bao Phi (see also: Solidarity From Within)
black history month.
yellow peril, brown berets, and black panthers protesting outside a courthouse where huey p. newton was being tried. a beautiful example of different cultures coming together for change.
i’m going to comment everytime on these few photos that we can’t reduce these actions to “different cultures coming together”, it’s a false representation of history and a false representation of what genuine solidarity was and should be.
what is important to me about this photo and what it represents is not some neoliberal concept of “cultures coming together”, but specific and intentional asian american activists SHOWING UP for the Black Panthers, not out of thinly concealed self-interest, but because they held a comprehensive and complicated understanding of racial justice and understood that they should support the BPP because it was the right thing to do.
^^Awesome commentary! I’d like to add to the conversation: I’ve seen a lot of Tumblr folks refer to the Asian American men in the photo as members of a group called “Yellow Peril,” but that group never existed!
This photo comes from the Roz Payne Newsreel Archive and is part of a series taken outside the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland in 1969, on the opening day of the Huey P. Newton trial. The Black Panther Party had deeply inspired and influenced Asian American, Chicano/Latino, Native American, and white radicals, and the photos show a multitude of folks attending the rally in support of the BPP. One of those groups was the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA): the men in the photo were from the Hayward State and Berkeley chapters.
AAPA was founded in Berkeley in 1968 by Yuji Ichioka, Emma Gee, and a handful of other Asian American activists, all veteran organizers with experience in the anti-war, labor organizing, and Black Power movements. Ichioka was the first to coin the term “Asian American,” with the intent to unite activists of different Asian ethnicities under one political banner. AAPA became the first multi-ethnic, anti-imperialist Asian American organization, influencing groups to form their own chapters and other organizations across the U.S., thus beginning the Asian American Movement. 
In July 1968, AAPA held their founding rally on the UC Berkeley campus; speakers included Bobby Seale of the BPP and representatives of other community organizations. Although AAPA’s membership was largely students, it included workers, professionals, and organizers from off-campus communities, and sought to build strategic alliances with community organizations. In a speech, AAPA co-founder and BPP member Richard Aoki laid out AAPA’s platform:
We Asian-Americans believe that American society has been, and still is, fundamentally a racist society, and that historically we have accommodated ourselves to this society in order to survive.
We Asian-Americans believe that hereto fore we have been relating to white standards of acceptability, and affirm the right of self-determination.
We Asian-Americans support all non-white liberation movements and believe that all minorities in order to be truly liberated must have complete control over the political, economic and social institutions within their respective communities.
We Asian-Americans oppose the imperialist policies being pursued by the American government. 
From its inception, AAPA was founded on the values of supporting all people’s struggles for self-determination and liberation from U.S. racism and imperialism world-wide (political ideologies that emerged from the Black Power Movement. Note also how the platform uses language similar to the BPP’s 10 Point Plan; the Asian American Movement was undeniably built on the work of Black radicals). They pursued this by supporting the BPP, Chicano and Filipino farmworkers in Delano, CA , and even collaborated with preexisting, less radical Asian American groups like the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). One of AAPA’s greatest achievements was joining with Black, Chicano, and Native American groups in the Third World Liberation Front strikes to fight for Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State (1968) and UC Berkeley (1969), two of the longest student strikes in U.S. history. 
I say all this not to glorify the history, but to emphasize baritonepats' point that, for AAPA, “solidarity” was not merely posing for a picture—it was consistently showing up for other people of color and working class peoples, it was building strategic alliances between Third World Left organizations in the U.S. and abroad, and it was struggling to build solidarity as an Asian American coalition of different ethnicities, genders, class and generational backgrounds, and sexualities.  “Building solidarity” was never an easy or simple process, but something the Asian American Movement constantly worked towards, albeit imperfectly.
To me, these photos reflect that history. The stories behind the photos say several things to me: 1. Asian Americans owe A LOT to Black Power and Black radicals and thinkers, 2. our liberation is inextricably tied to the liberation of all oppressed peoples, 3. as Asian Americans, it is our duty to listen, learn, and work to struggle in solidarity with others.
(Also see this photo from the same event: men for sure weren’t the only ones running things, more writing on that forthcoming!)
Sources: [1. Also important to note that “Asian American” and “Asian” are both constructs. Blogger biyuti has written some great criticism on the terms, see here and here.] [2. Also see full text in Stand Up: An Archive Collection of the Bay Area Asian-American Movement (Asian Community Center Archive Group, 2011)]  [4, see here and here] [5 which was for sure a complicated struggle that differed between regions and organizations: reflecting on his experiences in the Asian American and other revolutionary movements, Fred Ho criticized “[o]ur addictions to homophobia, male chauvinism, white chauvinism, economism, to nicotine, alcohol, the nuclear family.” See Legacy to Liberation (Fred Ho, ed., 2000), 180.]
Also see Asian American Activism’s reading list!
We constantly encounter new stories about people who have made a transformational impact in American and world history, but who have been just as often overlooked. Here are 5 such individuals whose voices shaped South Asian American history.
American Revolutionary: The Life of Grace Lee Boggs unfolds like a layered conversation. Director Grace Lee was working on The Grace Lee Project, seeking stories from Asian American women who share a common name with her. In a moment of serendipity, Grace Lee met Grace Lee Boggs; a social activist born in 1915, feminist, supporter of the black power movement, lover of good questions, and idol to many. What emerged from their initial meeting became a decade-long project of conversations and sharing stories. Lee captures candid and intimate sides of Boggs and the flux of activism, revolution, inner reflection, and structural change. As Boggs narrates histories of activism and community in Detroit, she also provides her refreshing and restorative wisdoms on spiritual and social transformation.
Can we talk about how CAAM gif-ed Grace Lee Boggs.
You expect Susie Wong to slink on in
Black hair like silk and a slant-eyed grin
Or maybe it’s sweet Mei-Ling
Serving tea with a subservient bend
But, I say,
So lo-ong, Susie Wong
So solly, Charlie,
But this a-China dolly
Ain’t-a takin’ your wiki-wiki dollars, uh-uh!
© Copyright, music and lyrics, Why K. Wong (Victoria Wong)
Repeat Offenders was a 1980s punk/new wave band based in San Francisco. Their frontwoman/vocalist was Victoria Wong, one of the co-founders of the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA, the organization that coined the term “Asian American” and sparked the 1960s-70s Asian American Movement), a veteran activist with roots in labor organizing and the anti-war movement.
[Image: Band portrait of Repeat Offenders. Source.]
This song originally appeared as a poem in an issue of the AAPA newspaper. Wong wrote it in response to racism and sexism she experienced as an Asian American woman. Click through the link to listen!
I wish I had known there was an Asian American frontwoman back in my middle school wannabe punk days—I think it would have saved me a lot of self-hatred and internalized racism!