RIP General Baker and Yuri Kochiyama
By Grace Lee Boggs
Special to the Michigan Citizen
We’ve lost two more stalwarts in the ongoing struggle for a new world of peace and social justice: General Baker and Yuri Kochiyama.
Our hearts go out to Marian Kramer, Gen’s wife and comrade, and their children and grandchildren.
The last time General and I talked was four years ago on June 19, 2010. It was the night before the opening of the 2nd U.S. Social Forum.
We laughed as we recalled the heady days of the 1960s.
We talked about:
- How Jimmy (Boggs) challenged two FBI guys to stand up to J. Edgar Hoover, even inviting them to a workshop on struggle against bosses that he would soon be giving.
- How after the murder of Cynthia Scott by a cop in July 1963, thousands of us marched over and over again around police headquarters at 1300 Beaubien, shouting, “stop killer cops!”
- How John Watson and Mike Hamlin took over the WSU student paper, The South End and declared “One worker is worth 100 students!”
In the last four years, building on the broad shoulders of giants like General, we’ve let the world know that out of the devastation of Detroit’s de-industrialization we have been creating a post-industrial society that is the alternative to planetary extinction.
I first met Yuri Kochiyama in her Harlem living room in 1961. We last talked in 1998 at the Asian American Activists Conference organized by Scott Kurashige at UCLA.
We couldn’t have been more different. Yuri agitated tirelessly against the oppression of blacks and other people of color, whom she viewed mainly as victims. By contrast, because I was married to Jimmy and lived in Detroit where blacks raised in the South were taking advantage of vacant lots to bring the neighbor back into the ‘hood and begin creating a post-industrial society, I viewed blacks more as leaders than as victims.