Maya Kochiyama

Maya Kochiyama is a yonsei/gosei Japanese American from Torrance, CA.  She is currently entering her third year at UC Berkeley as an Integrative Biology major. This summer, through the Nikkei Community Internship, she is the Discover Nikkei intern at the Japanese American National Museum.

Updated July 2011

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"Samurai Among Panthers: Richard Aoki, On Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life" by Diane C. Fujino

Best known for his dedication to the Black Panther Party, his leadership in the Asian American Movement as one of the founding members of the Asian American Political Alliance, and as a pivotal figure in the Third World Liberation Front, Richard Aoki was one of a kind. Diane Fujino’s book, Samurai Among Panthers: Richard Aoki, On Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life, explores the passionate, revolutionary, and often complex life of Bay Area activist Richard Aoki. In an interview earlier this year, Diane elaborates on the life of Richard Aoki and her journey through the production of his biography ...

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A Tree Cannot Survive Without Its Roots

The person I am today is not necessarily who I will be tomorrow. With each new experience I gain, each lesson I learn, I am constantly growing and evolving, redefining my identity in this world. But the person I have become is deeply defined by my roots.

These are the roots that my great great grandparents planted in American soil when they immigrated from Japan that have dug deeper with each new generation, Issei, Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei, and Gosei. Unyielding, they have lived through seasons of change: sweet summers of agricultural and entrepreneurial success to tormenting winters of racism and ...

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A Heart Without Boundaries - Part 3

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In December 1960, looking for a bigger home for their six kids, Yuri and Bill moved their family out to a new housing project in Harlem, New York, the epicenter of the newly emerging Civil Rights Movement.

As Yuri expressed in the documentary, Passion for Justice, “the Movement is contagious and awesome because the people in it are the spirit of the Movement,” (Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice, 2005) she slowly immersed herself into the movement as she increased her awareness of the struggles of people surrounding her.

She became involved in a variety of organizations that ...

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A Heart Without Boundaries - Part 2

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Her life drastically changed the day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. In President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s infamous words, “a date which will live in infamy.”

From that point, she started to question her cultural identity and how the government and the rest of America perceived her. “Before the war, I was seeing America with American eyes. What happened to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor made me see the world and America with entirely new eyes—Japanese American eyes. In many ways, this marked the beginning of my political awakening and development.” (Kochiyama 2004, xxiii ...

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A Heart Without Boundaries - Part 1

This is a paper that I wrote for my Intro to Asian American Studies class at UC Berkeley in Fall of 2010. When given the topic: Placing a Biography in the Context of History, I decided to write a biography about my grandma. I have edited this paper slightly to bring it up to date and fit more into the context of Discover Nikkei.

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Yuri Kochiyama, my grandmother, is a 2nd generation Japanese American woman at the ripe age of 90. Not only is she my grandma, but she is also a political and civil rights activist, role model, fighter ...

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