Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Heartbeat of Struggle

The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama

2005
Author:

Diane C. Fujino

Heartbeat of Struggle

The first biography of a courageous and inspiring champion of freedom and equality

Heartbeat of Struggle is the first biography of Yuri Kochiyama, the most prominent Asian American activist to emerge during the 1960s. Based on extensive archival research and interviews with Kochiyama's family, friends, and the subject herself, Diane C. Fujino traces Kochiyama's life from an “all-American” childhood to her accomplishments as a tireless defender of—and fighter for—human rights.

Yuri Kochiyama is one of the most well-known political icons of the Asian American population. She has led a fascinating and important life, and Diane Fujino has done an exceptional job of sharing and analyzing Kochiyama's personal and political growth.

Don Nakanishi, director and professor, UCLA Asian American Studies Center

On February 21, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom, Yuri Kochiyama cradled Malcolm X in her arms as he died, but her role as a public servant and activist had begun much earlier than this pivotal public moment. Heartbeat of Struggle is the first biography of this courageous woman, the most prominent Asian American activist to emerge during the 1960s. Based on extensive archival research and interviews with Kochiyama’s family, friends, and the subject herself, Diane C. Fujino traces Kochiyama’s life from an “all-American” childhood to her accomplishments as a tireless defender of—and fighter for—human rights.

Growing up in a Japanese immigrant family in California during the 1920s and 1930s, Kochiyama was active in sports, school, and church. She was both unquestioningly patriotic and largely unconscious of race and racism in the United States. After Pearl Harbor, however, Kochiyama’s family was among the thousands of Japanese Americans forcibly removed to internment camps for the duration of the war, a traumatic experience that opened her eyes to the existence of social injustice.

After the war, Kochiyama moved to New York. She began her activist career in the vibrant civil rights movement in Harlem in the 1960s, where she met Malcolm X, who inspired her radical political development and the ensuing four decades of incessant work for Black liberation, Asian American equality, Puerto Rican independence, and political prisoner defense. Kochiyama is widely respected for her work in forging unity among diverse communities, especially between Asian and African Americans.

Fujino, a scholar and activist, offers an in-depth examination of Kochiyama’s political awakening, rich life, and impressive achievements with particular attention to how her public role so often defied gender, racial, and cultural norms. Heartbeat of Struggle is a source of inspiration and guidance for anyone committed to social change.

Heartbeat of Struggle

Diane C. Fujino is associate professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Heartbeat of Struggle

Yuri Kochiyama is one of the most well-known political icons of the Asian American population. She has led a fascinating and important life, and Diane Fujino has done an exceptional job of sharing and analyzing Kochiyama's personal and political growth.

Don Nakanishi, director and professor, UCLA Asian American Studies Center

Heartbeat of Struggle is a remarkable book about an utterly remarkable woman. Yuri Kochiyama was involved in every human rights movement in the last half of the twentieth century, and Diane Fujino deftly captures the ability of activists like Kochiyama to give radical, revolutionary impetus to new movements for social change.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

It is the first American biography of one of the most prominent Asian American activists in the country, whose work on behalf of radical political and social causes took root in Harlem more than 40 years and continues today.

San Francisco Chronicle

Fujino’s carefully researched biography calls attention to the career of this remarkable woman.

MultiCultural Review

Heartbeat of Struggle

Contents

Acknowledgments

Family Tree of Yuri Kochiyama
Introduction: Change

1. A Color-Blind Patriot in Prewar America
2. Concentration Camps and a Growing Awareness of Race
3. New York, New Life
4. Plunging into Civil Rights
5. Meeting Malcolm X
6. Transformation of a Revolutionary Nationalist
7. Political Prisoners and the Heartbeat of Struggle
8. Asian Americans and the Rise of a New Movement
9. The Most Incessant Activist

Epilogue: The Never-Ending Struggle
Notes

Index