May 19, 2020
Today is the legendary activist Yuri Kochiyama’s birthday! We’re celebrating by revisiting one of our favorite episodes of AAWW Radio, You Don’t Say No to Yuri Kochiyama.
In 2005, scholar and activist Diane C. Fujino released the biography Heartbeat of Struggle: the Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama. An in-depth examination of Kochiyama's life, the book follows her early years in a concentration camp in Arkansas during World War II, to her friendship with Malcolm X in New York City, and her years of radical political activism.
We hosted an event celebrating the release of this text in November 2005. Co-sponsored by the NYU A/P/A Institute, the event was curated by activist and musician Fred Ho. Fred Ho invited activists and political organizers Baba Herman Ferguson, Esperanza Martell, and Laura Whitehorn, all of whom had known and worked with Yuri over the years years, to discuss and celebrate her legacy. You’ll hear about how Yuri’s Harlem apartment was a social hub for activists in the 60s, the tireless work she did with the Jericho Movement to liberate political prisoners, fight for Puerto Rican independence, her prolific note taking, and more. Finally, Diane. C. Fujino will share the story of Yuri’s political awakening, and how she transformed from a budding activist to a symbol of revolutionary change.