The Elders series honors figures that I consider to be political elders, folks whose lifelong activism serves as a model for doing work that matters, beyond youth and beyond a single-issue. Each elder is covered in flowers, as a sign of respect and honor for their commitment to social justice. The first elder in the series is Yuri Kochiyama. A lifelong organizer and former WW11 internee, Yuri was actively involved in various movements for ethnic studies, redress, and reparations for Japanese Americans, African Americans and Native Americans, political prisoners’ rights, Puerto Rican independence and many other struggles.
Perhaps the most beautiful thing I saw in Yuri was her ability to remain soft, despite living through incredible hardship. Her light spirit gives me hope that we can keep our joy in these difficult times.