Monday, February 24, 2014

A Salute to Yuri Kochiyama

With raw courage on one hand, and a comrade’s love in the other, she rushed onto the stage, literally, before the gun smoke had cleared, and cradled the head of “Our Shining Black Prince,” as he lay dying at the Audubon Ballroom, that fateful Sunday afternoon of Feb. 21, 1965. Urgently, she pleaded with her comrade and friend Malcolm X not to die, as she tried to comfort him. This heroic gesture was captured in the photo that appeared in Life magazine and once in the hardcover edition of Malcolm’s autobiography.

The oppressive state had finally succeeded in carrying out its cowardly plan, beyond contempt, that had been years in the making. A body of work out there underscores the fact that this “executive action” was government created.

Never a headline grabber, Yuri Nakahara Kochiyama has spent more than 50 years in the trenches, fighting on the illustrious side of human decency and liberation. These roots run deep and include fraternal connections to Workers World Party. And I’m sure editor Deirdre Griswold can share some awesome anecdotes about this with today’s cadre.

It is important to note that Yuri Kochiyama is of Japanese ancestry. She was born May 19, 1921, sharing a birth anniversary with the venerable Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh and with Malcolm X, among notable others. Her numerous admirers always mention this fact with unrestrained pride. And rightly so. She is historically linked to both giants.

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