SAN JOSE — CAAMFest San Jose will host a special screening of “Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice” on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 N. 5th St. (near Jackson) in San Jose Japantown.

Rea Tajiri’s 1993 film commemorates the life and legacy of Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese American icon and civil rights activist who passed away at the age of 93 in June. Special guests who will be attending the screening include her family and friends.

For over 40 years, the work of this tireless and inspiring political activist has touched thousands of lives in diverse communities across the United States. This documentary chronicles the history of this remarkable woman’s contribution to social change through some of the most significant events of the 20th century.

Yuri Kochiyama
Yuri Kochiyama

Kochiyama’s story begins with her internment as a young woman during World War II and her gradual political awakening. A follower and friend of Malcolm X and a supporter of black liberation, Kochiyama was at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem when Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965.

She was involved with worldwide nuclear disarmament, the Japanese American redress movement and the international political prisoner rights movement. Through the astonishing breadth of her activities, Kochiyama has united people who otherwise might not have met.

A typical yet significant example was when she initiated a meeting between Malcolm X and the Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Study Mission from Japan. This event kindled her close friendship with Malcolm X that would endure until his death.

Through interviews, writings, music and archival footage, this film captures the extraordinary vitality and compassion of Kochiyama as a Harlem-based activist, wife, mother of six children, educator and humanitarian. Her accomplishments and continuing involvement offer a unique view of past struggles in human rights and an inspiring glimpse at possibilities for the future.

Presented by the Center for Asian American Media; co-presented by Asian and Pacific Islanders for Community Advancement.

Admission is free, but RSVPs are requested. Email

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