Yuri Kochiyama (1921- ) is a grassroots civil rights activist who has involved herself in a wide range of issues from international political prisoner rights, nuclear disarmament, and Japanese redress for World War II internment. In the 1940s Yuri Kochiyama and her family were one of the many Japanese Americans to be sent to internment camps following the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Several years later she saw many similarities between how the Japanese had been treated in the camps and how many minority groups, especially blacks, were treated in the U.S. at the time. For more than sixty years afterwards Yuri Kochiyama has been an enthusiastic activist and a key supporter of many civil rights groups: in the 1960s she was a member of the Harlem Parents Committee organizing protests for more street lights in her neighborhood, and in 1977 she and 29 others from the Puerto Rican group the Young Lords stormed the Statue of Liberty to bring attention to the issue of Puerto Rican independence. Perhaps most famously, Yuri Kochiyama was a close friend and associate of Malcolm X, and was by his side at his assassination in 1965.
Richard Aoki was born in San Leandro, CA in 1938. During WWII, he was interned in the Topaz, Utah internment camp. He was a Field Marshal in the Black Panther Party—the only Asian American to hold a formal leadership role in the organization. He was also a founding member of the Asian American Political Alliance, a leader in the Third World Liberation Front Strike at UC Berkeley, a coordinator for the first Asian American Studies at UC Berkeley, an advisor for Job Opportunities and a counselor, instructor and administrator at Merritt and Alameda Colleges. On March 15, 2009, activist Richard Aoki passed away due to complications from longstanding medical problems. He dedicated his life to the struggle for human rights and the former Black Panther leaves legacy of activism and Third World solidarity.