Monday, May 3, 2010

AOKI: On Asian American Co-Founder of Black Panther Party

Richard Aoki (left). Updated: To listen to this edition of the Subversity show, click here: . Technical difficulties precluded recording the entire show, however.

Not many people know that an Asian American radical helped start the Black Panther Party. That may now change with directors Ben Wang and Mike Cheng's documentary, AOKI, profiling the life of Richard Aoki, a militant Japanese American, interned as a kid in Topaz during WWII, who hung out with Black militants Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and was part and parcel of the Black Panther Party that formed out of the neighborhoods of Oakland, California, advocating self-determination for oppressed Blacks.

Subversity, a KUCI public affairs program, talks with directors Wang and Cheng about their documentary on Richard Aoki, who was a radical student at Merritt College and UC Berkeley. He served as Field Marshall in the Black Panther Party, training its members to stand up against police abuse and police occupation of their community. Aoki also founded the Asian American Political Alliance at Berkeley and was active in the Third World Strike there. Aoki is the subject of an ongoing biographical project, Sumurai among Panthers, by UC Santa Barbara Prof. Diane Fujino, who appears in the documentary.

The Subversity interview airs 3 May 2010 from 5-6 p.m. on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, Calif., and is simulcast via

The documentary AOKI will show Tuesday, 4 May 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, screening at the Downtown Independent Theater, 251 South Main St (Between 2nd and 3rd Streets), Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles.

DVD copies of AOKI are available from Eastwind Books. See link for more information including where to request institutional orders.

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival closes Thursday 6 May 2010 with a screening of the Hong Kong film, "Bodyguards and Assassins" (Teddy Chan, director), at the ARATANI/JAPAN AMERICA THEATRE, JAPANESE AMERICAN CULTURAL COMMUNITY CENTER(A/JAT, JACCC PLAZA), 244 South San Pedro St., (Between 2nd and 3rd Streets), Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles. The film depicts a plot to kill later Chinese Republic founder Sun Yat-sen in 1906 in Hong Kong. The real-life Sun actually attended my secondary school in Hong Kong before he overthrew the Ching dynasty.

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