In this Book

Samurai among Panthers
summary

An iconic figure of the Asian American movement, Richard Aoki (1938–2009) was also, as the most prominent non-Black member of the Black Panther Party, a key architect of Afro-Asian solidarity in the 1960s and ’70s. His life story exposes the personal side of political activism as it illuminates the history of ethnic nationalism and radical internationalism in America.

A reflection of this interconnection, Samurai among Panthers weaves together two narratives: Aoki’s dramatic first-person chronicle and an interpretive history by a leading scholar of the Asian American movement, Diane C. Fujino. Aoki’s candid account of himself takes us from his early years in Japanese American internment camps to his political education on the streets of Oakland, to his emergence in the Black Panther Party. As his story unfolds, we see how his parents’ separation inside the camps and his father’s illegal activities shaped the development of Aoki’s politics. Fujino situates his life within the context of twentieth-century history—World War II, the Cold War, and the protests of the 1960s. She demonstrates how activism is both an accidental and an intentional endeavor and how a militant activist practice can also promote participatory democracy and social service.

The result of these parallel voices and analysis in Samurai among Panthers is a complex—and sometimes contradictory—portrait of a singularly extraordinary activist and an expansion and deepening of our understanding of the history he lived.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
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  1. Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. 2-7
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. ix-11
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  1. Introduction: Demystifying the Japanese Radical Cat
  2. pp. xi-xxxi
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  1. 1. “My Happy Childhood That I Don’t Remember”
  2. pp. 1-5
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  1. Disrupting the Deviant–Noble Binary
  2. pp. 5-9
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  1. 2. “Protecting the Japanese”
  2. pp. 10-20
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  1. The Ungrieved Trauma of Internment
  2. pp. 20-26
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  1. 3. “Learning to Do the West Oakland Dip”
  2. pp. 27-62
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  1. Masculinity, Race, and Citizenship in Postwar Oakland
  2. pp. 62-65
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  1. 4. “I Was a Man by the Standards of the ’Hood”
  2. pp. 66-90
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  1. Military Misadventures and Cold War Masculinity
  2. pp. 91-96
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  1. 5. “My Identification Went with the Aspirations of the Masses”
  2. pp. 97-117
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  1. The Old Left, Third World Radicalism, and Vietnam
  2. pp. 118-126
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  1. 6. “The Greatest Political Opportunity of My Life”
  2. pp. 127-163
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  1. Joining the Black Panther Party
  2. pp. 163-167
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  1. 7. “Support All Oppressed Peoples”
  2. pp. 168-180
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  1. Founding the Asian American Political Alliance
  2. pp. 180-186
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  1. 8. “It Was about Taking Care of the Collective”
  2. pp. 187-207
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  1. The Revolutionary Potential of the Third World Strike
  2. pp. 207-213
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  1. 9. “A Community-Oriented Academic Unit”
  2. pp. 214-225
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  1. The Birth of Asian American Studies
  2. pp. 225-229
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  1. 10. “An Advocate for the Students”
  2. pp. 230-254
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  1. Counselor, Instructor, Administrator
  2. pp. 254-257
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  1. 11. “At Least I Was There”
  2. pp. 258-272
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  1. A Rebirth in Activism
  2. pp. 272-274
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  1. Epilogue: Reflecting on a Movement Icon
  2. pp. 275-294
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 295-298
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 299-398
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 399-425
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 427-441
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  1. About the Author
  2. pp. 442-484
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