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Posted on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 6 a.m.

AOKI documentary film Monday on a Japanese American founding member of the Black Panther Party

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

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It's so sad to see the Ann Arbor Film Festival wind up for another year, but before we have a chance to even lose momentum, here comes a film straight from the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival that is not to be missed—AOKI.

From the University of Michigan Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month Committee, in collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA), comes a screening of one of this year’s most talked-about Asian American documentaries, plus a discussion with filmmaker Ben Wang:

"Monday, March 29 at the 236 Hutchins Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. AOKI is a documentary film chronicling the life of Richard Aoki, a third-generation Japanese American who became one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party. The film explores previously unknown facts about the formation of the Black Panther Party and highlights how Richard's leadership made a significant impact on individuals and groups in the contemporary Asian American Movement. AOKI demonstrates the incredible dedication to justice that one man's life has had and how the lessons of solidarity, commitment and discipline can carry on from one generation to the next."

You have to see the trailer to get a feel for the film and the times.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her Web site at, her blog at and reach her at