Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yuri Kochiyama Interview
Narrator: Yuri Kochiyama
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Oakland, California
Date: July 21, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kyuri-01-0014

YK: One day, it was such a surprise, Malcolm walked through the door in the Brooklyn courts. And everybody was so surprised to Malcolm come walking in. All the black activists, they were young, like eighteen to twenty-five, they all ran over to Malcolm and circled him. They were shaking hands. Of course, you know, Malcolm was very well-known then. And I see all these black people, I thought, "Gee, I want to shake his hands, too." But I thought, "Gee, maybe it's not right for me 'cause I'm not black and somebody's not going to like that, wondering why an Asian wants to do that." So, but I kept watching all the young blacks, and I said, "Doggone it, I'm gonna somehow, I'm gonna shake his hand." Actually, I thought, "Boy, wait 'til I get home and tell my kids that I shook hands with Malcolm." I mean, my kids were already activists when they were teenagers, but they weren't there. And I thought, "Well, no matter what, I'm going to at least try." I asked one of the people in CORE, that group named CORE, and they said, well, they don't know what he's gonna tell you. "He may not want to shake your hand. It's up to you, you could try and see what happens." So I thought to myself, "I am gonna try." And so I thought, if he ever looks up a little bit towards where I'm standing, I'm gonna yell out to him, "Can I shake your hand?" And when he did, I did do that. I said, " Malcolm, can I shake your hand?" And he looked at me, I think he was surprised it was an Asian woman anyway. And said, "What for?" And I said, gosh, what do I say? I said, "I want to congratulate you." I don't know why I said that. And he said, "For what?" And I said, gee, gosh, what do I want to congratulate him for? And I said, "For what you're doing for your people." And he said, "And what am I doing for my people?" I thought, oh, now what shall I say? And I said, I couldn't think of anything else, but I said, "Giving direction." And then he really changed his attitude and he came out of the circle of people around him and put out his hand. So I ran and I grabbed it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.