Richard Aoki (Field Marshall)
Growing up was know easy job for Richard at the early
stages in his life he and his family were placed in an
Internment camp during World War II, a childhood prisoner
held at Topaz Concenation camp in Utah from 1942-1945.
He joined the military at a young age, Having left the
Army after two years of service, Richard was intimately
aware of the vicious treatment and punishment that the
U.S. government could meter out.
Being Japanese-American and growing up in Black West
Oakland, he was tight with Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, as
well as David Hilliard years before the party started. He
also attended Merritt College for two years before
transferring to U.C. Berkeley in 1966. Richard remembers"
we had discussed pressing political, social issues of the
day, that we wanted to do something about it, so we got
together one night and hammed out the 10 point program of
the Black Panther Party.
Richard said, there were several Asian American members
of the BPP, he was the only one attain a formal
leadership role. Richard attended the first meeting of
the BPP his connection to the community along with
revolutionary politics and his action made it easy for
other Panthers to accept him as a equal, he was made
branch captain they accepted his rank, and later in the
Party Huey promoted him to Field Marshall. Richard
said, "one of the first things the Party did was patrol
the police of Oakland, they were killing a dude a week,
and set up Political Education classes for members and
Richard says" I've seen where unity amongst the races
yielded positives results. I don't see any other way for
people to gain freedom, justice, equality here except by
Enrolling at U.C. Berkeley soon after the founding of the
BPP, Richard became a leading member of the Asian American
Political Alliance (AAPA). A student based organization
whom platform closely resembled the Party's 10 point
program. Richard would recruit blacks on the campus by
passing out information and telling students about the
Party and when Elrage Clever started teaching classes on
campus in 1968(Experienmental class 139X) he was there
organizing for the BPP.
From 1968, onward Richard was involved in networking with
various groups cutting across communities, and
nationalities. Richard says" One of the least understood
aspects of the liberation movement era is the impact that
many Black, Brown, Yellow, Red radicals had on one another.
Ideological and organizational influences spilled across
vast distances, while Panthers absorbed Maoism, Asian
Americans took to the lectures and speeches of Huey Newton,
Chicanos and Puerto Rican radicals replicated some of the
BPP' Serve the People programs" as well as Native Americans
like groups like AIM".
Richard was a founding member of the Third World
Liberation Front on the campus of UO Berkeley in 1969
which was a formation of African Americans, Native
Americans, Africans, Mexican Americans, Asian students,
striking to win demands for a Third World College on
The college would include departments for Chicano studies,
and Native American Asian, and Africans studies, with the
aim of the program being to help oppressed minority
communities in American. TWLF is were striking for the same
basic demands that the students at San Francisco State were.
The formation of radical students successfully challenged,
the most conservative intuitions in the nation the
University system and won vital space in the form of Ethnic
Studies Depts. On both UC Berkeley as well as San Francisco
State campuses With these new departments has made higher
education transformed the cultural imagation of many people
and communities of color, thanks to people like Richard Aoki
who paved the way for many others to fellow. Richard said,
"That if it not for the BPP the many student and political
groups for students rights would not have emerge."
Note: Richard donated some of the first defend weapons
for police patrols to the BPP. Richard has always been
active in the communities, and today after he has retired
from his job, he still doing workshops and speaking about
the past as well as present conditions like the War,
Economy, and Police Abuse.
My dear friend and warrior.