We stand on their shoulders: Remembering Asian American leaders before us 

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 Audrey Magazine:

In light of Martin Luther King Day, we take the time to reflect on the efforts of not only Martin Luther King Jr., but also the others who stood at the forefront to fight for civil rights in America.

I once stood in front of San Francisco State University’s Filipino mural (pictured above). As a freshman still full of curiosity and bewilderment, I took in every detail possible. While questioning who the people in the mural were and why they were there, one detail in particular resonated with me. There was a quote in the corner painted in bold red, “We stand on their shoulders.” That brought the piece full circle for me, and suddenly I was filled with gratitude.

The Civil Rights Movement was not just of King’s doing, but a coalition of thousands of local movements, including efforts made by Asian American activists. The Civil Rights Movement brought to light the racial disparities in America and demanded equal representation. People of color were ultimately fighting against marginalization and misrepresentation in institutions, the denial of basic human rights, and were standing against a system that consistently silenced their voices.

In honor of their efforts, here are some of the Asian American leaders who were crucial during this pivotal time in America.

Richard Aoki:

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By the age of 3, Richard Aoki and his family were victimized by racism during WWII when they were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Utah. That early experience was key to his understanding of mistreatment made by the US government. This, lead him to join and aid the Black Panther Party (despite his conflicting work as a FBI insider).

In Hyphen Magazine‘s articleDiane Fujino–author of Samurai Among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Lifestated that he was “one of the most important political leaders bridging the Asian American, Black Power and Third World movements.”

 

 

Yuri Kochiyama:

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Yuri Kochiyama, Japanese American activist, dedicated her life to serving the black, Latino and Asian American communities. According to NPR’s article, “Kochiyama couldn’t help but stick out. She lived in New York City housing projects among black and Puerto Rican neighbors. Kochiyama began participating in sit-ins and inviting Freedom Riders to speak at weekly open houses in the family’s apartment.”

She was most noted for her friendship with Malcolm X,  and making him see that the Black Power movement wasn’t just an African American struggle but a multi-ethnic struggle.

 

Grace Lee Boggs:

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One of Audrey’s Women of Influence, Grace Lee Boggs made strides in the Black Power Movement alongside her husband, James Boggs. She was involved in the African American Movement for more than 70 years. A Chinese American woman who pre-dated both the Asian American movement and second-wave Women’s Movement concerned with gender inequality, Boggs’ first experience with activism came when she got involved with protests in the black communities of Chicago over rat-infested housing.

 Larry Itliong:

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The Filipino American advocate for agricultural workers’ rights, Larry Itliong was a key leader in the Delano Grape Strike together with Caesar Chavez (seen above). However, his efforts for demanding better pay and treatment for laborers are often overlooked.

In popular culture, it’s seen as a Chicano movement, not as the multi-ethnic alliance that it actually was,” says Dawn Bohulano Mabalon–a history professor at San Francisco State University and author of Little Manila is in the Heart.

 

Third World Liberation Front (TWLF):

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Intercollegiate Chinese for Social Action (ICSA), Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) and Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) were the Asian American unions that were part of the collective coalition of student unions called the “Third World Liberation Front.” These students fought a year long battle against the marginalization of a Eurocentric education, and were successful when the first College of Ethnic Studies was established at San Francisco State University. This is a battle that continues to inspire the oncoming generations as both Los Angeles and San Francisco are  now institutionalizing Ethnic Studies in high schools.

 


Fall of the International Hotel:

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In what was once the “Manilatown” of San Francisco, there stood the International Hotel (I-Hotel), a hub and a home not only for WWII veterans who were legally denied land, but also for low income families who could only afford single room occupancies. During the city’s first attempt to demolish the building in order to make a parking structure, many Bay Area student organizations, neighboring Chinatown organizations and community leaders stood in solidarity to create human blockade around the building.

But during the second eviction, authorities were successful at violently removing the elderly residents, which is seen in the documentary Fall of the I-Hotel. It wasn’t until decades after that the community’s efforts to rebuild the I-Hotel paid off in 2005 when the new I-Hotel was opened.

 

Robert Kinoshita, robot designer for ‘Forbidden Planet’ and ‘Lost in Space,’ dies at 100

Kinoshita with a fan-built replica of the Lost in Space robot in 2004.

Kinoshita with a fan-built replica of the Lost in Space robot in 2004

The Hollywood Reporter:

Robert Kinoshita, a production designer and art director who designed the iconic robots for the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and the 1960s TV series Lost in Space, has died. He was 100.

Kinoshita died Dec. 9 at a nursing care facility in Torrance, Calif., family friend Mike Clark told The Hollywood Reporter.
For Robby the Robot on Forbidden Planet, Kinoshita cobbled together several concepts contributed by MGM’s art and special effects departments, and made a miniature prototype of wood and plastic. The model, with a domed head of clear plastic, was quickly approved, and Kinoshita completed its construction. The film received an Oscar nomination for special effects.
Kinoshita was in the work pool of 20th Century Fox’s art department in the mid-1960s when producer Irwin Allen selected him to become the first-season art director for Lost in Space, which aired for three seasons on CBS from 1965-68.
Kinoshita’s bubble-brained Robot — a late addition to the cast whose famous line was “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” — featured a metallic barrel chest, light-up voice panel and rubberized legs. Kinoshita rushed to deliver the complicated costume shortly before the show entered production. (Dick Tufeld provided the voice.)
The Robot received as much fan mail as its the human cast, and a nationwide organization of fans, The B9 Robot Builders, has built more 100 full-size Robot replicas.
For the series, Kinoshita also modified the Robinson family’s spacecraft, designed for the pilot by Bill Creber, to include a lower deck with living quarters, dining room, lab and Robot dock. He stretched the production budget by creatively raiding props and discards from the Fox backlot.
Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1914, Kinoshita grew up in the Boyle Heights area. He attended Maryknoll Japanese Catholic School, Roosevelt High School and USC’s School of Architecture, and became interested in the movies, receiving his first practical experience on the 1937 film 100 Men and a Girl.
He and his wife, Lillian, were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II, but a sponsor allowed the couple to leave before war’s end and move to Wisconsin, where he became proficient in industrial design and fabricating products out of plastic.
Kinoshita came back to California in the early 1950s and returned to the movie industry just as MGM was gearing up for production of Forbidden Planet. In addition to Robby, Kinoshita designed several sets including the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon).
Also in the 1950s, he also created the robot Tobor from Here Comes Tobor (1957) and worked for ZIV Television on such series as Science Fiction Theater, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson and Men Into Space.
Later, he served as associate producer and production designer on the independent films The Phantom Planet (1961) and Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970) and was a free-lancer on such series as Hawaii-5-0, Barnaby Jones and Gene Roddenberry‘s pilot Planet Earth.
Kinoshita claimed his longevity was due to clean living and daily doses of apple cider vinegar, Clark said. He is survived by a daughter, Pat.
A private service was held on Dec. 23 at Green Hills Mortuary in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Robert Kinoshita, creator of Hollywood robots, dies at 100

Angry Asian Man:

Robert Kinoshita, an artist, art director and production designer who was best known for designing some of the most iconic robots from Hollywood film and television, has died. He was 100.

Kinoshita served as production designer on a number of films and TV shows, and is responsible for creating Robby the Robot for the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet, as well as the robot Tobor from the 1954 film Tobor the Great and the 1957 television pilot Here Comes Tobor.

He was also the first-season art director for the TV show Lost in Space, for which he created one of the show’s most popular characters — the robot, best remembered for the line “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!

Before finding a career in the backstages of Hollywood, Kinoshita and his wife Lillian were among the thousands of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in camps during World War II.

Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1914, Kinoshita grew up in the Boyle Heights area. He attended Maryknoll Japanese Catholic School, Roosevelt High School and USC’s School of Architecture, and became interested in the movies, receiving his first practical experience on the 1937 film 100 Men and a Girl.

He and his wife, Lillian, were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II, but a sponsor allowed the couple to leave before war’s end and move to Wisconsin, where he became proficient in industrial design and fabricating products out of plastic.

Kinoshita came back to California in the early 1950s and returned to the movie industry just as MGM was gearing up for production of Forbidden Planet. In addition to Robby, Kinoshita designed several sets including the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon).

Also in the 1950s, he also created the robot Tobor from Here Comes Tobor (1957) and worked for ZIV Television on such series as Science Fiction Theater, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson and Men Into Space.

According to a family friend, Kinoshita died December 9 at an assisted living center in Torrance, California.

Rest in peace.