Y is for Yuri Kochiyama

Yuri Kochiyama was an activist who fought for the rights of POC communities. Kochiyama was born in 1921 in San Pedro, California but she spent her childhood in San Francisco. On December 7, 1941 the police came to Kochiyama’s house to take her father to a detainment center because he was speculated to be a potential threat from Japanese Security. He was detained for 6 weeks even though he had just had an ulcer surgery. This made his health significantly worse, and he eventually passed away on January 21, 1944, only a day after his release. 

Seeing how unfairly her father was treated made Yuri Kochiyama gain racial pride. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kochiyama and her family were taken to an internment camp for Japanese-Americans. At the internment camp, she met Bill Kochiyama who would later become her husband. 

Later in life, Kochiyama moved to New York and started a family. It was here that she saw the extent to which other minorities were also treated unfairly, and she began to have an interest in activism. She held open houses for other activists and helped organize marches to fight for equality. Kochiyama was involved in the worldwide nuclear disarmament, the Japanese American Redress and Reparations Movement, and the International Political Prisoner Rights Movement. She worked with some of the most militant black nationalists, including the republic of New Africa. Even though she was new to activism, Kochiyama was made the leader of the emerging Asian American Movement. On June 1, 2014, Kochiyama died in Oakland, California at the age of 93. Her legacy as an activist for equality, however, continues to live on long after her passing.


Writers at The City Voice

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