Documentary | DVD
Director/Producers: Rea Tajiri, Pat Saunders
Ethnicities: African American, Japanese
Subjects: Activism, History, Human/Civil Rights, Japanese American/Canadian Internment, Personal Stories, Women
For over 40 years, the work of this tireless and inspiring political activist has touched thousands of lives in diverse communities across the United States. This documentary chronicles the history of this remarkable woman’s contribution to social change through some of the most significant events of the 20th century.
Yuri Kochiyama’s story begins with her internment as a young woman during World War II and her gradual political awakening. A follower and friend of Malcolm X and a supporter of Black Liberation, Kochiyama was at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem when Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. She has been involved with worldwide nuclear disarmament, the Japanese American Redress and Reparations Movement and the International Political Prisoner Rights Movement. Through the astonishing breadth of her activities, Kochiyama has united people who otherwise might not have met. A typical yet significant example was when she initiated a meeting between Malcolm X and the Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Study Mission from Japan. This event kindled her close friendship with Malcolm X that would endure until his death.
Through interviews, writings, music and archival footage, this film captures the extraordinary vitality and compassion of Yuri Kochiyama as a Harlem-based activist, wife, mother of six children, educator and humanitarian. Her accomplishments and continuing involvement offer a unique view of past struggles in human rights and an inspiring glimpse at possibilities for the future.