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But hey, she worked for Great Justice.
It’s with great pleasure that Google celebrates Yuri Kochiyama, an Asian American activist who dedicated her life to the fight for human rights and against racism and injustice. Born in California, Kochiyama spent her early twenties in a Japanese American internment camp in Arkansas during WWII. She and her family would later move to Harlem, where she became deeply involved in African American, Latino, and Asian American liberation and empowerment movements. Today’s doodle by Alyssa Winans features Kochiyama taking a stand at one of her many protests and rallies. (Ed. note: it was a protest against the Vietnam War in 1968.)
Kochiyama left a legacy of advocacy: for peace, U.S. political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during the war. She was known for her tireless intensity and compassion, and remained committed to speaking out, consciousness-raising, and taking action until her death in 2014.
As for that tireless compassion, it didn’t extend to people who had to leap out of burning skyscrapers; they got what was coming to them. Wikipedia:
Kochiyama in the mid-1960s joined the Revolutionary Action Movement, a clandestine revolutionary nationalist organization which was one of the first organizations in the black liberation movement to attempt to construct a revolutionary nationalism based on a synthesis of the thought of Malcolm X, Marx, Lenin, and Mao Tse Tung. She was one of the few non-blacks invited to join the Republic of New Africa (RNA), established in 1968 and which advocated the establishment of a separate black nation in the U.S South. Kochiyama felt that the need to build a separate black nation was even more important than the struggle for civil rights in Northern cities.
In 1977, Kochiyama joined the group of Puerto Ricans who took over the Statue of Liberty to draw attention to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. Kochiyama and other activists demanded the release of four Puerto Rican nationalists convicted of attempted murder—Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero, and Irving Flores Rodríguez—who in 1954 had opened fire in the House of Representatives, injuring five congressmen.
According to Kochiyama, despite a strong movement enabling them to occupy the statue for nine hours, they intended to “give up peacefully when the police came.” The five Puerto Ricans were eventually released. Yuri also had close relationships with many other revolutionary nationalist leaders including Robert F. Williams (who gave Yuri her first Red Book of quotations by Mao Zedong).
In response to the United States’ actions following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Kochiyama stated that “the goal of the war [on terrorism] is more than just getting oil and fuel. The United States is intent on taking over the world” and “it’s important we all understand that the main terrorist and the main enemy of the world’s people is the U.S. government. Racism has been a weakness of this country from its beginning. Throughout history, all people of color, and all people who don’t see eye-to-eye with the U.S. government have been subject to American terror.”
In 2003, while being interviewed by Tamara Kil Ja Kim Nopper, Kochiyama said “… I consider Osama bin Laden as one of the people that I admire. To me, he is in the category of Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro, all leaders that I admire.
Because like Che and Fidel and Mao and and Lenin, he killed the right people.Published in