Japanese American Activists in the Civil Rights Movement, Here Are the Facts, Not My Feelings

Nowadays, with the internet, everybody expresses what they think with no accountability for what is said. Their feelings and opinions often overshadow the facts, so it is not a shock to hear “I do not care about Asians because what have they done for the Black community?” By the way, this is not a zero-sum game, but here is your answer.

Copy editor Tamanika Gibson King

Before making a comment, or expressing our opinion, all of us, including myself, must take some responsibility. We can do that by researching and educating ourselves as best as we can on any topic. Except, in the age of clout chasing influencers where everybody now has a soapbox to voice their opinions from, that rarely happens. Although, I will make it easy for us, by providing several Google links/resources, so that we do not live the misinformed “influencer” life.

“The fate of each minority depends on the extent of justice given all other groups”.

– Ina Sugihara
Photo Description: the infamous LIFE magazine spread of the pictures of Malcom X's assisination. In the spread, the text "THE VIOLENT END OF THE MAN CALLED MALCOM" is written on the bottom, along with their editorial. In one shot you can see a Japanese American female, Yuri Kochiyama in it.
That is Yuri Kochiyama and Malcom X as he lay dying on Feb 21st, 1965. She and her dude were a homie of his.

A postcard sent by Malcom X to the Kochiyama’s was mailed from Kuwait on Sept. 27, 1964, it read: “Still trying to travel and broaden my scope since I’ve learned what a mess can be made by narrow-minded people. Bro. Malcolm X.”

The New York Times, Yuri Kochiyama, Rights Activist Who Befriended Malcolm X, Dies at 93

Here Are a Few of the Japanese Americans That Contributed To the Civil Rights Movement

This list only includes a few Japanese Americans and does not include all the Asian Americans that contributed to the civil rights movement. Except, I only have to name a few to shut down that remark about Asians and the Black community.

Photo Description: what a cool pic which is of Richard Aoki in a beret and some sunglasses looking like  badass.
Exactly how I imagined an Asian Black Panther. Richard Aoki was known as the “Minister of Information” for the Berkeley, Calif., chapter of the Black Panther Party.


A civil rights activist credited for arming (my dude loved guns) and training the Black Panthers because he grew up and was homies with Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the founding members of the Black Panthers (for self defense).

Photo Description: the young Daniel Inouye in his military uniform.
This dude had some serious balls, because how else do you get a “Medal of Honor.”


“No senator fought longer and harder for the rights of people of color, people with disabilities, women and the LGBT community.”

John Nichols, the Nation, “Dan Inouye’s Epic Civil Rights Championship.”

Photo Description: Joe Ishikawa in his younger years. He must be in his early twenties, but it's hard to tell since Asian don't raisin.
Thank Joe if you enjoy some twerking poolside.


“Joseph Ishikawa came to Nebraska from a Colorado internment camp during World War II. As a city employee in 1946 he challenged a longstanding policy barring African Americans from the municipal pool.”


Photo Description: the most common pic of Yuri Kochiyama where she is speaking into a microphone, while wearing tear drop shaped glasses, and a rag over her head.
There are a lot of articles about Yuri, but her husband Bill was part of the primarily all Japanese American 442nd combat unit of the U.S. Army.


Her brief friendship with Malcolm X is often cited, but she had been a lifelong activist for African Americans, Asian Americans, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans, and progressive whites. Her causes ranged from black separatism, antiwar, to reparations for Japanese-American internees.

Photo Description: Steve Kiyoshi Kuromiya looks sort of high in this shot and he just might be. This image is of him in his later years although he died fairly young at only 57 years old of HIV/AIDS.
Alabama state troopers clubbed dude in Selma, yet the part you will probably vibe with him on is his activism with the legalization of medical marijuana, especially if you are high AF while reading this.


A gay Japanese American involved in queer rights, legalization of marijuana, to an aid to Martin Luther King Jr. “Kuromiya would become a close confidante of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and during the week of King’s funeral helped to care for the King children.”

– NBC News

Photo Description: this looks like a scanned newspaper article and it is the only shot that I could find of Ina Sugihara. She is standing next to a black dude, and they are both wearing big signs that say "help endd discrimination."
Imagine how much content like this we only have in print from newspapers to magazine.


A fellow Coloradan who was a contributor to the press and built coalitions for civil rights across racial lines. Along with being in an interracial marriage with an African American man.


Photo Description: Harvard attorney Hugh Macbeth. This shot looks like a portrait shot where he is seated, wearing a suit and tie.
Harvard attorney born in South Carolina, but lived in the Japanese hood in LA. (his son Hugh Macbeth Jr. was also very active).

(an Advocate to Japanese Americans)

“Hugh Macbeth was an outstanding wartime defender of Japanese Americans. In speeches, lobbying, investigatory reports, and lawsuits, he challenged official discrimination.”


Smokey the Bear Touted “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires,” and I Say “Only You Can Prevent More Stupid”

Not every thought or opinion on any given subject matter has to be shared (or blogged about), and like the Dali Lama said (I had to Google the spelling because I almost spelled “Llama,” which would have been hilarious tho) “when you talk, you are only repeating what you already know, but if you listen, you may learn something new.” Unfortunately, on social media, listening does not get you much clout/likes.

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