YURI KOCHIYAMA (born May 19, 1922) is a US Japanese-American civil rights activist. Kochiyama was born Mary Nakahara in San Pedro, California. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Kochiyama's father was imprisoned the same day. Her family was sent to a camp in Arkansas, g the 130,000 Japanese-Americans interned during the Second World War.
Two of her brothers joined the US Army. In 1960, Kochiyama and her husband Bill moved to Harlem, New York City, and joined the Harlem Parents Committee. She got acquainted with Malcolm X and became a member of his Organization for Afro-American Unity, following his departure from the Nation of Islam. She was present at his assassination on February 21, 1965 at the Audobon Ballroom in Harlem, and held him in her arms as he lay dying.
In 1977, Kochiyama joined the group of Puerto Ricans that took over the Statue of Liberty to draw attention to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. Over the years, Kochiyama has dedicated herself to various causes like rights of political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, freeing Mumia Abu-Jamal and reparations to Japanese-Americans who were interned during the war.
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