Oakland, CA – Fresh on the heels of recent controversy surrounding Black Panther member Richard Aoki, his biographer, Diane Fujino, will make an appearance at the Oakland Public Library’s Temescal Branch on Tuesday, September 11 at 6:30 PM. Ms. Fujino will discuss her new book Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life. The Temescal Branch is located at 5205 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.
Richard Aoki was the most prominent non-Black in the Black Panther Party and a foremost leader of the Third World strike and Asian American Movement. Mr. Aoki’s dynamic life was centered in Oakland and Berkeley, with influences from his childhood in the Topaz, Utah, concentration camp, growing up in Black West Oakland, and an army stint in the 1950s. He was awakened to political activism during the early years of the Cold War and developed into a significant political leader in the 1960s. Part of the research for Samurai among Panthers was done at the Oakland Public Library.
Mr. Aoki, who passed away in 2009, was recently the subject of a well-publicized controversy. In August, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle alleged that Aoki had been an informant for the FBI. In a subsequent editorial for the Chronicle, Ms. Fujino challenged the article, saying the allegation requires more substantiation. Ms. Fujino also suggested the FBI sometimes deliberately muddies the water in order to “cast suspicion on a legitimate activist.”
Diane Fujino is chair and professor of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She teaches and studies Asian American activism, Japanese American radicalism, and Afro-Asian solidarities. Her other books include Heartbeat of Struggle on Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama, renowned for her connections with Malcolm X, and Wicked Theory, Naked Practice, on Chinese American saxophonist, radical activist and writer, Fred Ho.