Kiyoshi Kuromiya

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Kiyoshi Kuromiya
Born(1943-05-09)May 9, 1943
DiedMay 10, 2000(2000-05-10) (aged 57)
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
Monrovia High School
OccupationAuthor, civil and social justice advocate

Kiyoshi Kuromiya (May 9, 1943 – May 10, 2000) was a Japanese American author and civil rights and anti-war activist.

Born in Wyoming at the World War II-era Japanese American internment camp known as Heart Mountain,[1] Kuromiya became an aide to Martin Luther King Jr. and a prominent opponent of the Vietnam War during the 1960s.[2]

One of the founders of America's Gay Liberation Front, he was also the founder of the Critical Path Project and its newsletter, and was the editor of ACT UP's Standard of Care, the first medical treatment and cultural competency guidelines to be produced for people living with HIV by people living with HIV/AIDS.[3]


Born on May 9, 1943 at Wyoming's Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Steven Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a grandson of Hisamitsu and Hana Kuromiya, natives of Japan's Okayama Prefecture who had emigrated to the United States and settled in California's Sierra Madre region before relocating to the Los Angeles suburb of Monrovia, California in the east San Gabriel Valley. Their son, Hiroshi Kuromiya (Steven's father), was a 1935 graduate of Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte High School and operator of a successful Monrovia produce business.[4] Steven Kiyoshi Kuromiya had been born at Heart Mountain because his parents and uncle, Yosh Kuromiya, had been relocated there as part of the U.S. government's forced removal of Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast of the United States in 1942.[5][6][7]


After the war ended, the Kuromiya family returned to Monrovia, where, like his father before him, Steven Kiyoshi Kuromiya attended Monrovia High School. Active in the Scholarship Society and Science Club, he graduated with honors in 1961, and was accepted at the University of Pennsylvania.[1]

Activist career[edit]

Kuromiya was a committed civil rights and anti-war activist. He was also one of the founders of Gay Liberation Front - Philadelphia and served as an openly gay delegate to the Black Panther Convention that endorsed the gay liberation struggle. Kuromiya was an assistant of Martin Luther King Jr., and took care of King's children in the days immediately following King's assassination.[8]

To protest of the use of napalm in the Vietnam War in 1968, he announced that a dog would be burned alive in front of the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt Library. Thousands turned up to protest, only to find a message from Kuromiya: "Congratulations on your anti-napalm protest. You saved the life of a dog. Now, how about saving the lives of tens of thousands of people in Vietnam."[2]

Kuromiya was involved in all aspects of the AIDS movement, including radical direct action with ACT UP Philadelphia and the ACT UP network, People With AIDS (PWA) empowerment and coalition-building through We The People Living with HIV/AIDS, national and international research advocacy, and loving and compassionate mentorship and care for hundreds of people living with HIV. Kiyoshi was the editor of the ACT UP Standard of Care, the first standard of care for people living with HIV produced by PWAs.

Kiyoshi is perhaps best known as the founder of the Critical Path Project newsletter, which brought the strategies and theories of his associate/mentor Buckminster Fuller to the struggle against AIDS. The Critical Path newsletter, one of the earliest and most comprehensive sources of HIV treatment information, was routinely mailed to thousands of people living with HIV all over the world. He also sent newsletters to hundreds of incarcerated individuals to insure their access to up-to-date treatment information.

Critical Path provides free access to the Internet to thousands of people living with HIV in Philadelphia and the region, hosted over a hundred AIDS related web pages and discussion lists, and showed a whole generation of activists and people living with HIV that the Internet can be a tool for information, empowerment and organizing.

A leader in the struggle to maintain freedom of speech on the Internet, participating in the successful lawsuit against the Communications Decency Act, Kuromiya was also the leading plaintiff in the Supreme Court of the United States case, Kuromiya vs. The United States of America, calling for the legalization of marijuana for medical uses.

He was also a nationally ranked Scrabble player and a master of Kundalini yoga. He was the author (as Steve Kuromiya) of 1968 Collegiate Guide to Greater Philadelphia (1967) and, with R. Buckminster Fuller, of Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (1992).

In June 2019, Kuromiya was one of the inaugural fifty American “pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes” inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument (SNM) in New York City’s Stonewall Inn.[9][10] The SNM is the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights and history,[11] and the wall’s unveiling was timed to take place during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.[12]

Illness, death and interment[edit]

Kuromiya died on May 10, 2000, due to complications from cancer,[13] although it was initially reported to be an AIDS related death.[14] His remains were interred at a resting niche at the Live Oak Memorial Park in Monrovia.[1]

Brief timeline[edit]

  • 1962 CORE restaurant sit-ins, Route 40, Aberdeen, Maryland
  • 1963 Martin Luther King speech, 8/28, Lincoln Memorial, and later to meet King at Willard Hotel, Washington, DC
  • 1965 Injured at State Capitol Building, Montgomery Alabama, leading black high school students in voter registration march, 3/13
  • 1965 First homosexual rights demonstration ever - Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 7/4
  • 1967 "Armies of Night" march on Pentagon Building
  • 1968 Lincoln Park and Conrad Hilton, Chicago, Democratic National Convention riots at Grant Park
  • 1968 Martin Luther King funeral, Atlanta - cared for Martin Jr. and Dexter week of funeral at King house in Vine City
  • 1969 Spoke at Black Panther Party's Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention, Temple University, Philadelphia
  • 1970 "Rebirth of Dionysian Spirit," National Gay Liberation Conference, Austin, TX
  • 1972 First Rainbow Family Gathering, Granby, CO
  • 1974-77 Survived metastatic lung cancer
  • 1978-83 Traveled worldwide with Buckminster Fuller, collaborated on his last 6 books, wrote last book posthumously in 1992 (Fuller died in 1983), Philadelphia, California
  • 1988 First employee of We the People with Aids and charter member of ACT-UP, Philadelphia
  • 1992 ACT-UP members injured at demo at Bellevue Stratford Hotel, numerous ACT-UP arrests around the country
  • 1996 Sat on FDA panel that recommended approval of first potent protease inhibitors
  • 1997 Critical Path Aids Project - Supreme Court overturns communications decency act on internet censorship - lead litigant
  • 1999 Kuromiya vs. United States of America - class action suit on medical use of marijuana.


  1. ^ a b c Susie Ling (September 20, 2016). "The Kuromiyas of Monrovia: A Family of Unsung Heroes". Rafu Shimpo. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Vaughan, Steve (October 18, 1968). "The Defiant Voices of S.D.S." Life magazine. pp. 90–91.
  3. ^ "Life of Kioyshi Kuromiya: From Selma Marcher to AIDS Activist." NBC News: March 5, 2015.
  4. ^ Susie Ling (September 20, 2016). "The Kuromiyas of Monrovia: A Family of Unsung Heroes". Rafu Shimpo. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Yosh Kuromiya: Random Thoughts on Being Nisei During World War II." Los Angeles, California: Manzanar Committee, May 19, 2011.
  6. ^ Nakagawa, Martha. "Yosh Kuromiya, who resisted wartime draft from Heart Mountain camp, dies." San Francisco, California: Nichei Bei, August 2, 2018.
  7. ^ Hiroshi Kuromiya, in "Leaves This Week." Cody, Wyoming: Heart Mountain Sentinel, July 3, 1943.
  8. ^ Susie Ling (January 25, 2017). "Respected Monrovia Japanese-American Civil and Gay Rights Activist Remembered". Monrovia Weekly. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  9. ^ Glasses-Baker, Becca (June 27, 2019). "National LGBTQ Wall of Honor unveiled at Stonewall Inn". Retrieved 2019-06-28.
  10. ^ SDGLN, Timothy Rawles-Community Editor for (2019-06-19). "National LGBTQ Wall of Honor to be unveiled at historic Stonewall Inn". San Diego Gay and Lesbian News. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  11. ^ "Groups seek names for Stonewall 50 honor wall". The Bay Area Reporter / B.A.R. Inc. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  12. ^ "Stonewall 50". San Francisco Bay Times. 2019-04-03. Retrieved 2019-05-25.
  13. ^ "Kiyoshi Kuromiya". Critical Path Learning Center. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  14. ^ "Life of Kioyshi Kuromiya: From Selma Marcher to AIDS Activist," NBC News: March 5, 2015.

External links[edit]