Yuri Kochiyama Visit-Feb. 8th
- The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign, the Free Mumia Coalition, and Critical
Resistance are happy to announce that our sister,
friend, comrade and ever-present ally Yuri Kochiyama will be visiting New
York City!! All three groups are organizing a special People's Reception on
Saturday February 8th, 2003 for Yuri!!
Join us for food, entertainment and wonderful conversation with Yuri!!
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 8TH, 2003 AT 7:30PM-10PM
ST. MARY'S CHURCH 521 W126TH ST.
BETWEEN AMSTERDAM AVENUE AND BROADWAY
TAKE THE 1 OR 9 TRAIN TO W125TH ST AND BROADWAY
YURI'S BIOGRAPHY AND A SPECIAL PEOPLE'S NOTE:
Yuri Kochiyama is one of the most revered and beloved activists our movement
has known. She spans decades of activism and worlds of cultures and
political movements. Born in 1921 in San Pedro California, by the time she
was 21, Yuri was interned in one of the concentration camps set up for
Japanese-Americans during World War II. She was in Jerome, Arkansas. She
spent two years in that camp, from 1942 - 1944. After that she went to
Hattisburg, Mississippi, working for the USO specifically to help
Japanese-American soldiers. When the war ended Yuri was happy to reunite
with Bill Kochiyama, her lifelong partner, who returned from fighting with
the 442 Battalion, an all Japanese-American combat unit acclaimed as one of
the most courageous infantry groups in US history.
After coming to New York, Yuri worked with Harlem Parents, and later with
Malcolm in the Organization of Afro-American Unity. She organized a welcome
for Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims who came to this country, and Malcolm
attended that welcome. As has been documented on film, Yuri was in the
Audubon the day Malcolm was assassinated, and she ran up to the stage to
help him and to make sure the children and Betty were safe.
During the Viet Nam War, Yuri participated in the Asian-American organized
opposition to the war. By the 70's, with the intense attacks on the Black
Panther Party, Yuri became involved in the National Committee for the
Defense of Political Prisoners, thus beginning more than three decades of
her legendary support for political prisoners. Her Christmas letters to
friends, to this day, detail the situation of every political prisoner she
can track down, and her caring dedication to each of them is an inspiration
to all those who do political prisoner support work.
Many a political prisoner, including those who've gotten out, has paid
tribute to what Yuri's support meant to those who were incarcerated. In
addition to her work in the movement, Yuri taught conversational English at
Riverside Church from 1983 to 1993, and later spent ten years volunteering
at a soup kitchen and homeless shelter. In 1993 Bill Kochiyama, Yuri's
husband, died and was mourned by hundreds of people from family, to friends,
to activists giving a small sense of who the Kochiyamas were, and how much
they were treasured.
Yuri continues to be a much sought after lecturer at dozens of colleges and
universities, including such places as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Radcliffe,
Oberlin, and the University of Hawaii. She also spoke at many high schools
and even some junior high schools and elementary schools.
Finally, Yuri participated in the 1987 Venceremos Brigade, and travelled to
both Peru and the Phillipines in support of political prisoners.
This is truly only a biographical SKETCH of Yuri's incredible life to this
date. She has been the recipient of dozens of awards, tributes, and honors.
But most of all, she is beloved by many hundreds of activists and people --
from those who've worked with her and know her well to those who've simply
crossed paths with her and were inspired by her modest, charming, and
A NOTE FROM YURI
January 30, 2003
I am 81 going on 82. Born in San Pedro, Calif 1921. World War II -1942 -
spent Concentration Camp in Jerome, Arkansas. 1946 - came to New York,
married Bill Kochiyama , member of the 442nd All Japanese American Infantry.
Bill grew up right here where the St. Mary's Church stands. But then it was
called Sheltering Arms, an orphanage. In 1960, we were lucky to get into
the Manhattanville Project (right across the street). Before that, we lived
at Amsterdam Houses So, you can see, I've come home.
Just want to thank all the people who came into my life while living in New
York for 54 years; 40 years in Harlem. It was the movement and the people
in the movement, that I owe my life's purpose, meaningfulness and friendship
to (Black/New African, Puerto Rican/Latinos, White/anti-imperialist, the few
American Indians/Indigenous, Asian Americans, and mixed blood folks.
Thanx, too, to all the others - family friends, neighbors, project friends,
my kids' friends. etc. What a huge life you gave me! Love and thanx for
the many ways you blessed me.
This July, the 34th contingent of the Venceremos Brigade will spend twoweeks
in Cuba. As part of a �Travel Challenge,� organized with IFCO/Pastors for
Peace, Brigadistas will challenge the u.s. blockade on Cuba. We hope that
your organization will play a role in this year�s contingent, either by
sending representatives on the trip and/or supporting our efforts in other
ways.On SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8TH FROM 3:00PM-5:00PM, we will be holding
aninformational meeting for all those interested in finding out more.
The meeting will be held at 10 Park Terrace East, #1L (A train to 207th St,
1 train to 215th St).For more information and to confirm your organization�s
attendance, please email vbrigade@... or call 212-560-4360.
Individuals with no organizational affiliation are also encouraged to
The Venceremos Brigade is an anti-imperialist educational project that,since
1969, has sent over 8,000 people to Cuba. A national organization, the
Brigade brings people together from all over the U.S. for an unforgettable,
life changing experience. During trips, brigadistas participate in
agricultural and/or construction work while also learning about Cuba�s
revolution, history, and culture.This year, the Venceremos Brigade has
launched a special campaign. Along with IFCO/Pastors for Peace, we are
calling upon people across the country to join a mass �Travel Challenge.�
Around 75% of the U.S. population, including a majority of Cuban Americans,
want an end to the travel ban. Over the past two years, both houses of
Congress have voted not to enforce the travel restrictions. Yet, since Bush
became president, harassment of travelers to Cuba, both licensed and
unlicensed, has greatly increased. In this climate, it is clear that the
Cuba solidarity movement must take a stand.The Venceremos Brigade has always
traveled unlicensed in order to make a statement against the U.S. blockade
on Cuba, an inhumane policy that attacks both the island�s sovereignty and
its 11 million people. This July, however, brigadistas will make our most
open challenge to the U.S. travel restrictions. In order for the �Travel
Challenge� to work, a lot of folks will have to participate.The �Travel
Challenge� is not the only reason to (re)join the Venceremos Brigade now.
The 34th contingent will participate in Cuba�s national celebrations for a
special July 26th--this year marks the 50th anniversary of the attack on the
Moncada Garrison. The trip will have a special concentration on Cuba�s
elders, as we hope to participate in the renovation of la Habana�s �Casas de
Ancianos,� and to collect oral histories from some of the island�s elder
generation. The program will also include events centered around Cuban hip
hop, democracy, health care, education, among other topics.
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