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Podcast Interview with Biographer Diane Fujino:

Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary

Life of Yuri Kochiyama

At Upward Media Partners, we’re in search of stories that break out of the

cultural norms that have dominated Hollywood storytelling since the start of

moving images on screen.


We explored an iconic narrative when we sat down to interview Diane Fujino, biographer

and author of Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama. The

podcast series is currently in production and Part 1 is available here.

Learn more about this story in the book summary below: 

"On February 21, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom, Yuri Kochiyama cradled Malcolm X

in her arms as he died, but her role as a public servant and activist began much earlier

than this pivotal public moment. Heartbeat of Struggle is the first biography of this

courageous woman, the most prominent Asian American activist to emerge during

the 1960s.

"Based on extensive archival research and interviews with Kochiyama's family, friends,

and the subject  herself, Diane C. Fujino traces Kochiyama's life from an 'all-American'

childhood to her achievements as a tireless defender of - and fighter for - human rights.

Raised by a Japanese immigrant family in California during the 1920s and 1930s, Kochiyama

was active in sports, school, and church. She was both unquestioningly  patriotic and

largely unconscious of race and racism in the United States.

"After Pearl Harbor, however, Kochiyama's family was among the thousands of Japanese Americans

forcibly removed to internment camps for the duration of the war, a traumatic experience that opened

her eyes to the existence of social injustice. After the war, Kochiyama moved to New York. It was in the

context of the vibrant Black movement in Harlem in the 1960s that she began her activist career.

There, she met Malcolm X, who inspired her radical political development and the ensuing four

decades of incessant work for Black liberation, Asian American equality, Puerto Rican independence,

and political prisoner defense. Kochiyama is widely respected for her work in forging unity among

diverse communities, especially between Asian and African Americans. Fujino, a scholar and activist,

offers an in-depth examination of Kochiyama's political awakening, rich life, and impressive achievements

with particular attention to how her public role so often defied gender, racial, and cultural norms.


"Heartbeat of Struggle is a source of inspiration and guidance for anyone committed to social change."


-- Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama, University of Minnesota Press;

First edition (May 15, 2005)

Click here to order the book directly from the publisher. 

Podcast Credits: 

Host: Brittany Hanrahan

Editing by Anita McGee 

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