|Rare Book & Manuscript Library|
At a Glance
Letters, diaries, albums, photographs, and printed material.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Additional Online Description
Restrictions on Access
Collection is closed for processing, summer 2019. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Scrapbook evaluated October 2018, can be made available as long as handling instructions are provided.
This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Yuri Kochiyama Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library..
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative.
Postcards and photos in scrapbook placed in Mylar sleeves. kws 10/25/2018
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Yuri Kochiyama was born in 1921 as Mary Yuriko Nakahara. Months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, her family was forced to relocate to an internment camp.
In 1946, Yuri married Bill Kochiyama, a veteran of the 442nd Regiment. The couple moved to New York City where her political activism would flourish. In 1960 the family moved to a low-income housing project in Harlem. Yuri and her family invited many civil rights activists, such as the Freedom Riders, to their home gatherings. They also became members of the Harlem Parents Committee, a grassroots organization fighting for safer streets and integrated education.
In 1963 Yuri met Malcolm X, and he helped radicalize her. She was with Malcom X when he was assasinated. After gunmen fired at Malcolm X in 1965 during his last speech in New York City, she rushed toward him and cradled his head on her lap. A black-and-white photograph of the scene later appeared in Life magazine.
In the 1980s, Yuri and Bill Kochiyama pushed for reparations and a formal government apology for Japanese-American internees through the Civil Liberties Act, which President Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1988. Their continued dedication to social causes inspired younger generations of activists, especially within the Asian-American community. Bill Kochiyama died in 1993.
In her later years, Yuri's keen interest in equality and justice led her to work for the sake of political prisoners in the U.S. and internationally. Yuri was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for her struggles against imperialism and racism. Yuri Kochiyama died on June 1, 2014 in Berkeley, California.