Yuri Kochiyama


Within the first couple of weeks after returning to Los Angeles I visited the Japanese American Heritage Museum. During my visit I learned about a woman, Yuri Kochiyama, whose visage was captured in a famous LIFE magazine picture of the assassination of Malcolm X. In fact, Yuri Kochiyama was holding Malcolm X’s head after he was shot and lay dying on the stage of the Audubon Ballroom. The museum curator pointed out this famous picture and proceeded to tell me about the connection between Civil Rights organizations and Japanese Americans. I was saddened to learn that Mrs. Kochiyama passed away only one day ago. However, I am glad to have learned about her legacy of political activism. Upon hearing about her death I did a quick search online and came across Blue Scholar’s song entitled “Yuri Kochiyama”. Losing Kochiyama just days after losing Angelou is a reminder that we must remember our heroes and most importantly remember our history.

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