by Evan Cui
Oakland, California - 1969
Photo: Panthers photos at Newsreel Films archives
In May 1968, the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) was first formed at the University of California at Berkeley . Graduate student Yuji Ichioka and his girlfriend Emma Gee sought to create the campus’ first pan-Asian American political organization. With its inception in the context of the African American Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party, and the Vietnam War, AAPA reflected the struggle that Asian Americans faced in coming to terms with their identities as members of the United States. Over the course of the next two years, AAPA initiated the “yellow power” movement, educating and mobilizing students on the Berkeley campus and after the summer of 1968, the SF State campus as well. Notably, they participated in the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), a coalition formed with the Afro-American Student Union, the Mexican American Student Committee, and the Native American Indian Association that fought for the creation of a Third World College (including African, Asian, and Chicano studies) taught by Third World faculty. Furthermore, they also stood in solidarity with the “Free Huey” and the “Anti-Vietnam War” movements. AAPA dissolved in 1969, after the conclusion of the TWLF strikes.