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Google's Pride Doodle Spotlights Social Justice Champion Kiyoshi Kuromiya

Born in an internment camp, the Japanese American was a civil rights, gay rights and anti-war activist most of his life.

Kiyoshi Kuromiya knew a thing or two about fighting for rights.

A gay man born in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II, Kuromiya spent most of his life fighting for civil rights and relief for AIDS patients.

To honor his contributions to the fight for civil rights, as well as the anti-war movement, Google on Saturday will dedicate its Pride Doodle to Kuromiya on the third anniversary of his induction to the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall National Monument.

Google Doodle showing Kiyoshi Kuromiya as part of a mural along with a pride flag
Google

Kuromiya, a third-generation Japanese American, was born on May 9, 1943, at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, his family among the 120,000 Japanese Americans forced to relocate to internment camps during the war. He grew up in Southern California but moved east to attend college in Pennsylvania in 1961.

His civil rights activism began in earnest during his first year at the University of Pennsylvania. He led a demonstration against the Vietnam War and participated in diner sit-ins protesting racial inequality. In 1963, Kuromiya met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and began working closely with the civil rights legend. Two years later, Kuromiya was hospitalized after he and King were beaten by sheriff's deputies during a voter registration march in Montgomery, Alabama.

Kuromiya was also very active in the gay rights movement, co-founding the Gay Liberation Front following the Stonewall riots in 1969 and creating the first gay organization on the University of Pennsylvania campus. He served as an openly gay delegate to the 1970 Black Panther Convention that endorsed the gay liberation struggle and founded the Philadelphia chapter of ACT UP, an organization focused on ending the AIDS crisis.

He founded the Critical Path newsletter, one of the first resources on AIDS information and HIV treatment, and morphed it into a website, which led to a fight to maintain freedom of speech on the internet. Kuromiya was one of the lead plaintiffs in a successful challenge to the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which prohibited circulating "patently offensive" information about AIDS on the Internet.

Kuromiya also became friends with Buckminster Fuller and collaborated on the techno-futurist's final six books, including Critical Path, a 1981 book that discussed opportunities to improve the world through advancements in technology.

Kuromiya died of AIDS-related complications in 2000, one day after his 57th birthday.