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Directed by: Ben Wang and Mike Cheng
Runtime: 94 min
Website: Official Website
Gun-toting, sunglass wearing, loud-mouthed master swearer, founding member and Field Marshall of the Black Panther Party, Richard Aoki was one of the most influential Asian American civil rights activists in history. First time filmmakers Mike Cheng and Ben Wang tell Aoki’s story in his own words and through interviews with his friends, students, and colleagues, from his childhood experiences in the Japanese American internment camps, growing up in the predominantly black neighborhoods of West Oakland, serving in the U.S. military, and as a student and student activist at Merrit Community College and the University of California, Berkeley.
An organizer with the Asian American Political Alliance and Third World Liberation Front, Aoki went on to influence generations of young Americans as a private citizen and an educator. His participation in the student protests of 1969 at the University of California, Berkeley, spurred the creation of the Department of Ethnic Studies throughout the California state college system. Aoki himself worked in that system for 25 years becoming an elder and inspired teacher for a younger generation. This documentary strives to bring greater public attention the life work of a true all-American activist, from birth to his untimely death in 2009.
— Melissa Bisagni
Influential Asian American artists profiled in this documentary include turntablist Kid Koala, fashion designer Natalie Purschwitz, and Dim Mak DJ Steve Aoki, with commentary by Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot magazine.