Staged Reading of ‘Yuri and Malcolm X’

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COMPTON — A staged reading of “Yuri and Malcolm X” will take place on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. at Little Theater on the campus of Compton College, 1111 E. Artesia Blvd. in Compton.

Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama

Tim Toyama’s play documents the life of civil/human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) from when her father was taken by the FBI after Pearl Harbor to her final years before her death. Originally from San Pedro, she graduated from Compton Junior College in 1941. After the war, she lived in Harlem and became friends with African American leader Malcolm X (1925-1965), a prominent figure in the Nation of Islam.

Kochiyama witnessed Malcolm X’s assassination on Feb. 21, 1965 in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom and, as documented in a famous Life Magazine photo, she tried to comfort him as he lay dying.

“I wrote Yuri and Malcolm X because I felt, and feel, that more people should know about her,” said Toyama, whose other plays include “Visas and Virtue,” “Independence Day” and “Bronzeville.” “I think of Yuri as a pioneer, as a person who was ahead of her time regarding her political and social activism, and someone to be admired. We need more Yuris.”

Produced and adapted by David Maruyama, an English Department instructor at Compton College, the reading is directed by Darrell Kunitomi and features Jully Lee as Yuri Kochiyama, Mike Hagiwara as her husband Bill Kochiyama, and Durant Fowler as Malcolm X.

This free event is held in conjunction with the 90th anniversary of the college. For directions and a campus map, visit www.compton.edu.

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