Japanese-American Activist Who Helped Win Internment Reparations Dies at 93

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 4 2014 2:00 PM

Japanese-American Activist Who Helped Win Reparations, Witnessed Malcolm X Shooting Dies at 93

screen_shot_20140604_at_1.48.37_pm
From Life magazine in 1965.

Life magazine via Time

A 93-year-old activist named Yuri Kochiyama died this week in Oakland after an epic life that included several years in a Japanese internment camp and involvement, 40 years later, in a successful campaign to compensate victims of those camps.

Kochiyama, born in California, became an activist after being held in Arkansas during WWII. From the Los Angeles Times:

She married a Japanese American GI she had met during the war and in 1960 moved with him to Harlem, where she raised a large family and joined her poor black and Puerto Rican neighbors to fight for better schools and safer streets.
Radicalized by her association with Malcolm X, the fiery Nation of Islam leader, Kochiyama plunged into campaigns for Puerto Rican independence, nuclear disarmament and reparations for Japanese American internees.
Advertisement

The campaign for reparations was successful, with $20,000 awarded to survivors by a law signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988. (The idea of reparations has been in the news recently thanks to an Atlantic article that made the case for compensating black Americans.) But that was just one chapter in Kochiyama's career as a New York radical—during which she also witnessed the assasination of Malcolm X, rushing to his side seconds after he'd been fatally shot. Read more about Kochiyama’s life here.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 22 2014 1:22 PM Is Arabic Really Just One Language? 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 22 2014 2:12 PM Crusader, Sans Cape The superhero trappings of Gotham are just a clever disguise.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.