Lily as Yuri Kochiyama
My daughter as Yuri Kochiyama: Yuri Kochiyama was born in 1921 in San Pedro, CA.. She was nisei or an American-born child of Japanese parents. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her father, who was already in poor health, was detained, denied medicine and died as a result. Soon after that, the rest of her family was rounded up and interned. The US government held 120,000 people with Japanese heritage in camps because of suspicions about their loyalty. Her family stayed there for two years. This early exposure to racial profiling and injustice helped make Kochiyama an activist. Later on following an arrest for civil disobedience in Brooklyn, she introduced herself to Malcolm X and the two became fast friends. She studied with him at his Organization of Afro-American Unity. On the day that Malcolm X was assassinated, she was there. Kochiyama and her signature cat-eye glasses can be seen in the Life magazine photos holding Malcolm X’s head as he lay dying in the Audubon Ballroom. She continued to fight for human rights for all people. She fought for and won reparations for Japanese people who were interned and a formal apology from the US government in the 80s.
** Original photo of Yuri Kochiyama, courtesy of the Kochiyama family **
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