San Francisco State University is home to the famous 1969 Third World Strike which gave birth to the first School of Ethnic Studies in the country and a generation of social justice thinkers and shakers. African American, Asian American, Native American and Latino students came together, during a time when the Viet Nam war was escalating and the Black Panther Party was active, to demand an equal and just educational institution. This is the same college where Megan and I attended, became friends and politicized.
In class I learned about a man named Richard Aoki, a third-generation Japanese American man who was a founding member of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. I was quickly intrigued and wanted to learn more. I learned his early childhood was spent in a WWII Japanese American concentration camp in Utah and he grew up in West Oakland, California – right across the Bay from SFSU. His life was dedicated to justice and even into the end of his life, Richard was organizing and active in political movements. His life and his passion is truly inspiring and I strive to live my life like his – dedicated to a movement that creates a more just place.
That’s why I was so excited to hear about AOKI a documentary film chronicling the life of Richard Aoki. I didn’t know when I would get a chance to see it since I moved to NYC, but I was ecstatic to find out the film was making its first NYC premiere this week during the Black Panther Party Film Festival.
The film will be showing at Maysles Cinema in Harlem during the Black Panther Party Film Festival. Get yourself there to support this important film and to learn about Richard Aoki. The premiere is this Friday, December 10th at 8:15PM. Tickets are $10 and you can buy them here. If you’re also interested in owning a copy of this film (since the holidays are coming up) you can purchase it here.
Check out the trailer for AOKI: