- Category : 1921-births
- Type : GE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (12)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Uncertainty 1
American civil rights activist, later an outspoken supporter of Islamic terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Influenced by her Japanese-American family's internment, her association with Malcolm X, and her Maoist beliefs, she advocated for many causes, including black separatism, the anti-war movement, reparations for Japanese-American internees, and the rights of people imprisoned by the U.S. government for violent offences whom she considered to be political prisoners.
While interned during World War II, she met her future husband, Bill Kochiyama, a Nisei soldier fighting for the United States. The couple married in 1946. They moved to New York in 1948, had six children, and lived in public housing for the next twelve years.
Kochiyama met the African-American activist Malcolm X, at the time a prominent member of the Nation of Islam, in October 1963 during a protest. She joined his pan-Africanist Organization of Afro-American Unity. She was present at his assassination on 21 February 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York City, and held him in her arms as he lay dying—a famous photo appeared in Life magazine capturing that moment.
Kochiyama became a mentor to the radical end of the Asian American movement that grew during and after the Vietnam War protests. In 1971, Kochiyama secretly converted to Sunni Islam, and began travelling to the Sankore mosque in Greenhaven prison, Stormville, New York, to study and worship with Imam Rasul Suleiman. She taught English to immigrant students and volunteered at soup kitchens and homeless shelters in New York City.
Interviewed in 2003, she said, "I consider Osama bin Laden as one of the people that I admire. To me, he is in the category of Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro ... I thank Islam for bin Laden. America's greed, aggressiveness, and self-righteous arrogance must be stopped. War and weaponry must be abolished."
Kochiyama died on 1 June 2014 at the age of 93 in Oakland, California.