Richard Aoki 1938-2009

By Hatty Lee Mar 20, 2009

Trailer for documentary on Richard Aoki On March 15, 2009, activist Richard Aoki passed away due to complications from longstanding medical problems. He dedicated his life to the struggle for human rights and the former Black Panther leaves legacy of activism and Third World solidarity. Aoki was born in San Leandro, CA in 1938. During WWII, he was interned in the Topaz, Utah internment camp. He was a Field Marshal in the Black Panther Party—the only Asian American to hold a formal leadership role in the organization. He was also a founding member of the Asian American Political Alliance, a leader in the Third World Liberation Front Strike at UC Berkeley, a coordinator for the first Asian American Studies at UC Berkeley, an advisor for Job Opportunities and a counselor, instructor and administrator at Merritt and Alameda Colleges. Richard Aoki was a fearless leader of people of all color and will be missed. To read more, check out AsianWeek’s article from a few years back, and the Oakland Tribune tribute about the Black Panthers, with an article on Richard Aoki. “I became convinced that this is my country, and if it’s going to become a more positive society then I have to stay here and help.” –Richard Aoki