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Civil Rights Activist Yuri Kochiyama Dies at 93

Elaina Johnson | 6/2/2014, 12:27 p.m.
In 1968, Yuri Kochiyama spoke in New York City in Central Park. Kochiyama Family/ UCLA Asian American Studies Center Photo

Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese-American civil rights activist, has died of natural causes in Berkley California at age 93. According to family members, Kochiyama died peacefully in her sleep.

Kochiyama was an advocate for Black, Latino, Asian and Native Americans. Her friendship with Malcolm X, who she met in 1963, helped to align her activism with the Black nationalist movement. Kochiyama was present when Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 during his last speech in New York City.

In the 1980s, Kochiyama pushed for reparation for previously interned Japanese-Americans with the Civil Liberties Act, which was later signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Kochiyama’s achievements inspired many younger activist, primarily within the Asian-American community.

“She was not your typical Japanese-American person”, Tim Toyama, her second cousin, told NPR. "She was definitely ahead of her time, and we caught up with her."

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