of leaders + leadership
In Terry Watada’s remembrances of Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama on page 14 he talks about staying at her apartment in New York, noting “Hundreds maybe thousands of people came through that Harlem apartment, many of them staying overnight or longer.”
In the mid-eighties I was one of those hundreds or thousands who passed through that apartment. I was visiting New York for the first time with a group of fellow Katari Taiko members and we spent one night at her place before flying home. Being young and not particularly politicized, I had no idea who Yuri Kochiyama was, but I recall others speaking of her with reverence. Terry’s description of her apartment was exactly as I remembered it, although he didn’t mention the impressive collection of Bob Dylan albums.
Yuri Kochiyama was a hero to many, and not just to Japanese Americans, for her lifelong commitment to human rights – leading not just through words, but through action. I regret that I wasn’t more aware at the time of who she was; it would have been fascinating to talk her about her experiences and beliefs.
Speaking of leadership – I am so pleased this month to introduce readers to some of the local coordinators of the upcoming Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference that will take place from September 19 to 21 in Vancouver. I also talk to Ottawa-based coordinator Lisa Schoenhofer, a young leader in her community who I had the pleasure of meeting several years ago in Kamloops. There has recently been an upsurge in involvement by young people in the community, including here at the JCCA. It is a phenomenon that augers well for the future of our community.