Peacemakers Heroes

Yuri Kochiyama

by Chris from Raleigh

“Repression will breed resistance. US' greatest fear of revolution and greatest desire of empire will one day come to a climax.
Yuri Kochiyama<br> (
Yuri Kochiyama

Yuri Kochiyama is a little known civil rights activist but you still cannot stress the importance of her too much. She still lives in Harlem where she has been for the past twenty years. She was also friends with the famous civil rights activist Malcolm X. She fought for the civil rights of African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Asian-Americans. Born May 19 1922 she was 19 when the attacks on Pearl Harbor took place on December 7, 1941. As a Japanese-American, her dad was imprisoned on the same day. Their family, along with over 130,000 others, were brought to a camp in Arkansas. That was when she started her fight for civil rights.

Seeing how she was treated during that time, she immediately noticed the similarities between her and African-Americans. She then started becoming one of the leading civil rights leaders of her age. In 1946 Yuri Kochiyama was married to Bill Kochiyama. Bill, a Japanese-American and vetetan of the 422nd Regiment, shared the same beliefs as her about racial injustice. The couple soon moved to Harlem, an infamous poor and black area of New York. Her understanding of African-Americans had just started.

There in Harlem, New York, Yuri and Bill raised children. There Bill and Yuri Kochiyama became active members in The Harlem Parents committee. There in 1963 Yuri met well known civil rights leader, Malcolm X. Following Malcolm X further changed her political views. Then she joined the Organization for Afro-American unity.

In February 21, 1965, Yuri Kochiyama was attending a meeting in a ballroom. There was one sound that would make that night live in history for ever. Malcolm X was gunned down. His friend, Yuri Kochiyama, was standing in the crowd. She rushed up and held Malcolm X's body as his last breaths slowed until suddenly he died.

Yuri Kochiyama should also be remembered for other civil rights actions such as taking over the Statue of Liberty with Puerto Ricans, as a protest for their statehood. She was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She also has been subject to millions of interviews. Her children are deeply involved in civil rights and I believe that without good people like Yuri Kochiyama the world would not be the same. That is why Yuri Kochiyama is my hero.

Page created on 3/26/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 3/26/2006 12:00:00 AM

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