Where’s the evidence Aoki was (an) FBI informant?

Seth Rosenfeld’s dramatic announcement that Richard Aoki was an FBI informant provoked an enormous response from Chronicle readers. Could it be true? Or was this a “snitch-jacketing,” a classic FBI tactic used to cast suspicion on a legitimate activist by spreading rumors and manufacturing evidence? As a scholar, I insist on seeing evidence before concluding […]

Richard Aoki: The man, the activist, the leader

SAMURAI AMONG PANTHERS: RICHARD AOKI ON RACE, RESISTANCE, AND A PARADOXICAL LIFE By Diane C. Fujino (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012, 496 pp., paperback; $24.95; cloth, $75) It has been more than 70 years since that fateful day that forever changed the lives of Japanese Americans, and it has been more than 40 years […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Mervyn M. Dymally, former Congressional Black Caucus chair, a vital redress advocate

During the early 1970s, the movement for Japanese American redress (as it would later be called) was born. It started as a collection of grassroots activists seeking to raise popular consciousness about the wartime removal of Japanese Americans. One notable leader was Sue Kunitomi Embrey, who founded the annual Manzanar Pilgrimages. Another central figure was […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: A MAN OF PRINCIPLE: Robert Chino, civil rights activist, draft resister and veteran

The New Year’s season is a special time for wrap-ups and updates. One interesting, if slightly frustrating, part of doing my Nichi Bei column is that my research does not stop with publication of a given essay. Instead, I continue to discover more information about the people I write about even after the pieces have […]

J-Sei celebrates 40 years of community service, evolution

OAKLAND, Calif. — Some 240 supporters helped to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a cherished East Bay agency on Sept. 10, taking a video tour of the agency’s past while gaining some insight into its evolving future. And while the organization went through a name change and rebranding of its mission over the past year, […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The Japanese American fight for gay and lesbian rights

  This week’s piece represents a fifth entry in the series of annual columns I have produced for Nichi Bei on the Queer heritage of Japanese Americans. In past pieces I have looked at the hidden and sometimes complex sexual history of early Japanese immigrants; the evolution of widespread anti-gay prejudice in mid-century Japanese communities, […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Multiracial pacifist and activist, Yone Stafford

One of the more pleasant aspects of doing “The Great Unknown” is the responses that I get to my columns from readers, including friends and family members of the people whom I write about. They not only offer praise but provide additional information and inspire further work. Not long ago I did a column about […]

NJAHS honors those who made ‘transformative’ contributions

The National Japanese American Historical Society’s (NJAHS) mission statement has changed since it began in 1981. In celebrating its 30th anniversary, NJAHS honored both the people it says have transformed the Japanese American cultural landscape, as well as the transformations the organization itself has experienced during the last three decades. NJAHS originated with a mission […]

BOOK REVIEW: Fragments of history and the fight for human rights

WHEREVER THERE’S A FIGHT: HOW RUNAWAY SLAVES, SUFFRAGISTS, IMMIGRANTS, STRIKERS, AND POETS SHAPED CIVIL LIBERTIES IN CALIFORNIA By Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi (Berkeley: Heyday, 2009, 512 pp., $24.95, paperback) In “Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California,” authors Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi take […]

Cal State University East Bay confers honorary doctorate to activist Kochiyama

Yuri Kochiyama, a human rights activist dedicated to social justice for more than 50 years, received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the commencement ceremonies for California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) on June 12. The ceremony was held at the university’s Hayward campus. Born in San Pedro, Calif., Kochiyama spent two years […]

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