Born in the Heart Mountain, Wyoming, internment camp in 1943, Kiyoshi Kuromiya (May 9, 1943 – May 10, 2000) was a lifelong activist participating in several movements including civil rights, protesting the Vietnam War, LGBT rights, and AIDS/HIV advocacy.
In 1968, as an architecture student at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, he and some friends held a demonstration against the use of napalm in Vietnam by announcing that a dog would be burned alive with napalm in front of the university library. Thousands turned up to protest, only to be handed a leaflet reading: “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.”
Kuromiya spent the spring and summer of 1965 in the South fighting for civil rights, and became friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When King was assassinated, Kuromiya helped take care of the King children.
Kuromiya participated with the Gay Pioneers in the first organized gay and lesbian civil rights demonstrations, “the Annual Reminders,” held at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969. He was 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. Diagnosed with AIDS in 1989, Kuromiya became a self-taught expert on the disease, operating under the mantra “information is power.” He founded the Critical Path Project, which provided resources to people living with HIV and AIDS, including a newsletter, a library and a 24-hour phone line. [Adapted from LGBT History Month, NBC News, and ACT UP-New York.]
Learn more about Kuromiya in this remembrance video by friend Alfredo Sosa: