• 14 never-before-seen portraits of Malcolm X

14 never-before-seen portraits of Malcolm X


Druck, Ed. 14 candid photographs of Malcolm X with three hibakusha in Yuri Kochiyama’s Harlem Apartment. June 6, 1964.

5” x 7”; silver gelatin print; glossy Ilford Multigrade III RC Rapid Pearl Photographic Paper MGR.44M.

Born Mary Yuriko Nakahara, Yuri Kochiyama (1921–2014) spent the early years of her life in San Pedro, CA. Months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, she and her family were forced to relocate to internment camps along with tens of thousands of other Japanese-Americans.

In the summer of 1963 Kochiyama and other demonstrators were arrested for blocking a discriminatory construction site for Brooklyn’s Downstate Medical Center. At her hearing on October 16, she was shocked to find someone she recognized in the courtroom’s gallery: Malcolm X (1921–1965), surrounded by a group of young Black activists. Kochiyama eventually summoned the courage to introduce herself, touching off a friendship that lasted through the latter’s assassination (Kochiyama was at the scene and was memorably captured cradling a prone Malcolm’s head in a Life magazine photo).

Several months after that first meeting, Kochiyama received a letter from the Hiroshima-Nagasaki World Peace Study Mission, a touring group of 25 hibakusha [survivors of the atomic bombings] that visited more than 100 cities throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Soviet Union from 1963–65, asking her to host an event for three writers in her Manhattanville apartment. The group specifically requested that Malcolm X attend as well, if possible. He agreed, and the meeting took place on June 6, 1964.

These photographs were taken six months, less a few days, before the civil rights leader’s assassination at the hand of NOI killers—very little iconography of this intimate nature was created in that short stretch of time.