Sundi Rose
May 19, 2016 10:46 am
Kochiyama family/UCLA Asian American Studies Center

In honor of what would be the Japanese-American human rights activist’s 95th birthday, Google today has put Yuri Kochiyama front and center on their doodle. While her name might not headline any chapter’s in your history textbook, it should. She was one of the greats.


Kochiyama played an integral part in the Civil Rights’ Movement of the 1960s, and is famous for being an important member of the Asian American empowerment movement, as well as a crucial (notably non-Black) member of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Kochiyama was also friends with Malcolm X. A famous Life Magazine photograph shows her cradling his head right after Malcolm X was shot by assassins.

Kochiyama’s interest in these causes likely began when she and her family were removed from their California home and forced into Japanese internment camps.

“I didn’t wake up and decide to become an activist,” she once told the Dallas Morning News. “But you couldn’t help notice the inequities, the injustices. It was all around you.”

Throughout the years, Kochiyama cemented herself as a major feminist symbol for empowering marginalized groups. She died in 2014, but continued to fight for equality well into her 90s.

The Google sketch is by artist, Alyssa Winans “features Kochiyama taking a stand at one of her many protests and rallies.”

Google says of her life and work, “Kochiyama left a legacy of advocacy: for peace, U.S. political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during the war. She was known for her tireless intensity and compassion, and remained committed to speaking out, consciousness-raising, and taking action until her death in 2014.” Thank you for bringing her important legacy to our attention, Google

Today, we remember Yuri.