There has been a lot of talk this last week about Richard Aoki. Aoki was a third generation Japanese American who as a child was locked up in an internment camp for Japanese Americans and who later on became a member of the Black Panther Party.
Richard, after his family was released from the Topaz internment camp, grew up a diverse neighborhood where he had many African American friends from whom he heard much about lynching and white supremacy. He also witnessed the brutality of the Oakland police department. He served eight years in the army but turned against the military and wanted no part of the killings in Vietnam.
Aoki served as a field marshal in Black Panther Party. Huey Newton once told him:
He was also an activist in the movement of Asian Americans was a key player in the Asian American Political Alliance. He was there working on behalf of agriculture workers, especially Filipino americans.
“The struggle for freedom, justice and equality transcends racial and ethnic barriers. As far as I’m concerned, you black.”
Richard skillfully and with passion helped formed alliances also with Latino and Native American groups.
He helped to establish an Ethnic Studies Program at University of California Berkeley.
Richard was highly respected by those around and remained so for all these years.